Hibs boss: Steven Whittaker will be three players in one

Steven Whittaker is set to seal a return to Hibs
Steven Whittaker is set to seal a return to Hibs
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Hibs head coach Neil Lennon believes he will be getting three players in one as he prepares to bring Steven Whittaker back to Easter Road.

The 33-year-old’s name has been linked with the Capital ever since he became a free agent after being released by Norwich at the end of the season.

Now Lennon is confident enough of capturing the signature of Whittaker – who was at the club’s East Mains training centre on Thursday – to reveal that he believes an announcement on his return will be made early next week.

Lennon, who has also been credited with an interest in bringing striker Anthony Stokes back for a third spell at Hibs, had hoped to be in the position of being able to unveil a new arrival earlier this week, saying: “It’s progress, progress, progress.

“I was hoping we’d get something done early this week, but sometimes these things chop and change as we saw with the Luke Berry deal.”

However, on Whittaker – who played 174 games for Hibs before making a £2 million move to Rangers ten years ago – Lennon said: “It is very close now and hopefully we will be able to announce something early next week and there are other options we are pursuing.

“I think it would be a real coup for this club. We’ll be getting three players in one with Steven. He can play in both full-back positions, he is excellent in midfield and has had a stellar career – and I believe there is plenty more to come. He looks in great condition and we hope to get it over the line.”

Lennon revealed he has come to a decision over former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant – who played in all three of Hibs’ pre-season matches as a trialist – but insisted he’d be speaking to the 34-year-old before making that public.

He has also been casting an eye over Welsh internationalist Simon Church, but admitted it was too early to make a decision on the 28-year-old striker. “It’s too early in the sense he has only been here for a couple of days and I imagine he’ll stay with us next week unless anything else crops up for him,” Lennon said. “At the minute, he is getting his fitness levels up, training well – but it’s no guarantee.”