Alan Stubbs is confident Scott Allan will still be at Hibs to spearhead their Championship title bid in the upcoming season.
The talisman, who has a year left on his contract, has been persistently linked with Celtic and Rangers this summer, but Stubbs is entirely comfortable with the situation and is adamant there is no pressure whatsoever on his club to accept any offers for last season’s Championship player of the year.
“The position is that Scott’s a Hibs player,” he said. “I’ve heard about the speculation and I’m delighted at that because without it then it means we don’t have good players. When you have good players there’s always speculation.
“I don’t see any reason why Scott won’t be here for the first game of the season. We’ve had conversations over the summer. His last text to me [before today] was ‘see you on the first day of pre-season’. I’ve got a good relationship with him, as I do all the players.”
Stubbs insists there have been no enquiries about Allan this close-season and is confident that if an offer is forthcoming, his board of directors would consider his viewpoint, as they did when declining bids from Dundee United, the player’s former club, at the end of the January transfer window. “I’ve got a strong relationship and get on great with Leeann [Dempster], Rod [Petrie] and all the directors,” he continued. “We had a bid for Scott in the January window and we all agreed he wasn’t leaving. If a bid came in for anyone then we’d discuss and I’m sure my input would be taken on board. Let’s see what happens from now until the beginning of the season. If someone wants to come in and bid £3 million for Scott then it’s not a problem!”
Hibs have been in talks aimed at tying down Allan on a longer-term deal, but Stubbs is content to allow his star man to run down his contract, help Hibs try and win promotion and then assess his options in a year’s time if that is what he would prefer to do.
“We’ve been in negotiations and would like him to sign a contract but I respect his position as well,” he said. “He knows what we want him to do but there is a mutual respect there. The negotiations have just been ongoing. There’s been no pressure, we’re comfortable with it and always have been comfortable with the situation but Scott Allan is a Hibs player.
“He’s at a big club – we’re not talking about us being a really small club. I understand the size of Celtic and Rangers but Scott has flourished in this group of players and there has been a really good chemistry between the both of us. He’s got himself back on the right track and I don’t see any reason why that should change.
“If Scott decides to let his contract run down, we’re respectful of that. Scott is going to be here for the rest of the season and after that he is a free agent. We’re the ones that are controlling this situation. If that’s the case, we’re prepared to let that contract run out for the next year, although we would like him to sign a new deal because he is integral player for us.
“He’s a very talented player, he’s allowed to get away with one or two things because of the type of player he is and the players respect him but I’m looking forward to seeing him for the start of pre-season and having a laugh and a joke.”
Although he has been monitoring midfielders anyway in order to bolster his squad, Stubbs insists he has made no specific contingency plans for any potential Allan departure. “We haven’t looked at a Plan B,” he said.
Hibs made a move for St Mirren midfielder John McGinn earlier this month, but Stubbs was unwilling to talk in any detail about a player who will command a compensation fee. “He’s a good player but he’s not my player and I would rather not talk about him because we’re going to get linked with a lot of players.”
Stubbs returned to Edinburgh yesterday following a holiday in Marbella and the head coach is excited about welcoming his players back to East Mains for pre-season today. Having added James Keatings and Dan Carmichael to his squad and re-signed Fraser Fyvie, Martin Boyle, Liam Fontaine and Lewis Stevenson, he is optimistic about how things are shaping up. “I’m really pleased with the work we’ve done,” Stubbs continued. “We’ve made some really good signings who will be very good additions to the squad. We have a lot of attacking options and a settled back four. There is a lot of continuity to the squad from last season and that was something I couldn’t say a year ago.”
Yesterday’s news about Fontaine signing a new two-year deal was particularly pleasing for Stubbs as he admits he would have struggled to find such an accomplished centre-back elsewhere if the Englishman had chosen not to return to Edinburgh. The 29-year-old wore the captain’s armband occasionally in the absence of Liam Craig and David Gray last season and Stubbs confirmed that, with Craig now having left the club, Fontaine will effectively be deputy captain to Gray.
“Liam Fontaine signing is great news for us,” said Stubbs, who celebrated his first year in charge of the club yesterday. “He was brilliant last season and was probably one of the players the fans wanted to get signed up. He had other offers and it wasn’t easy. I’ve been in contact with him quite a bit over the summer and I’m pleased we got it over the line. I was very keen to get it done.
“We knew what we were getting with him on the field and off it. It would have been really difficult to replace that. I don’t think we would have been able to get in anyone as good as him. Fonts will be deputy captain. Between him and David Gray you’ve got two great people leading the team. They are two people I would hang my hat on and would want right beside me in a battle or a game. I’m glad they’re on my side.”