Neil Lennon has warned potential suitors that it will “cost them a lot of money” to prise star duo John McGinn and Jason Cummings away from Hibs.
The pair – who were shortlisted on Thursday for the PFA Championship Player of the Year award – are expected to attract attention from elsewhere this summer after emerging as two of the most promising young talents in Scotland.
Cummings, the 21-year-old striker who already has 69 goals to his name, is under contract until 2020 after signing a new four-year deal last summer. McGinn, the 22-year-old Scotland midfielder, is tied down until 2019, with former club St Mirren entitled to around 30 per cent of any sell-on fee.
Lennon is adamant that Hibs have no desire to cash in on their key men at a time when they are intent on making an impact on their return to the Premiership, although he did acknowledge that “every player has a price”.
“Jason and John won’t be going anywhere unless this club wants them to go, not unless they get an offer that we deem fit for our purposes,” he said.
“Until that happens, they will be playing for Hibs. They are on long-term contracts and we were right to do that.
“That’s certainly the case with Jason, and John has another year or two but maybe we will look to give John an extended contract as well.
“We have to do what is best for Hibs, if that eventuality [offers from elsewhere] comes to anything. We are speaking hypothetically. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was interest in both those players and, I’m sure, some other players as well but, like I said, they are on cast-iron contracts so if anyone is interested then it is going to cost them a lot of money.”
Lennon explained that Hibs are eager to bolster the core of their squad – not erode it by selling their best players.
“Especially when you have been promoted, you want to keep the momentum going,” he said. “You don’t want to break it up, you want to add to it.
“With the quality we already have, we want to add players who can make us better and stronger and we want to challenge next season. I don’t want to be there to make up the numbers. I certainly don’t want to be in the position where we are fighting relegation again. I would like to think that we would be in and around it with the big clubs.”
Lennon will restore some of his senior players for today’s trip to Ayr United. The manager fielded a much-changed team in the midweek over Raith Rovers, with most of his big guns rested. Chris Humphrey is expected to retain his place as he steps up his fitness following two months out injured.
“Put it this way I will put another strong team out,” said the manager. “I thought we put a strong team out on Wednesday. Most of those guys would play in most teams in the Championship so it shows the strength that we have and we won the game. I was justified in giving the players an opportunity and certainly the younger players did themselves the power of good. There will be a more familiar look to the team at Ayr.”