Neil Lennon admits Hibs face another uncertain transfer window regarding the future of John McGinn.
The highly-regarded Scotland internationalist has only a year left on his current deal at Easter Road and the manager is braced for the likelihood of seeing the 23-year-old following out-of-contract Dylan McGeouch through the exit door.
McGinn’s future has been the subject of doubt for some time, with Nottingham Forest having failed in a bid to land him last summer, while Lennon was relieved that no approaches came for the midfielder in January.
Although there have been no concrete offers so far this summer, it is widely expected that McGinn, whose stock is at its highest yet after he was among the four nominees for PFA Scotland’s Premiership player of the year award last season, will attract strong interest from clubs keen to take advantage of the fact his contract is only a year from expiry. If Hibs were to hold on to their prized asset beyond this window, McGinn would be free to agree a pre-contact with another club from January onwards, and the Easter Road club would be at risk of missing out on a transfer fee for a player Lennon claims is worth in the region of £5 million.
“We would like to keep John – but it’s going to be difficult,” said the manager. “He is a huge asset. He’s the heartbeat of the team. He and Dylan will leave big boots to fill – but that’s the nature of the job at a club like Hibs. Players come and if they do well they move on.”
Aside from securing Florian Kamberi on a permanent deal after he impressed on loan last season, Hibs are still waiting for their first new signing of the summer, but Lennon is optimistic that situation will change soon. “We’ve signed Kamberi and that’s important,” he said. “Hopefully we are close to getting another couple of deals done.”
Lennon admits he was disappointed at being penalised for his “harmless” aeroplane celebration in front of the Rangers fans after Jamie Maclaren’s late equaliser in the 5-5 draw at Easter Road on the final day of last season.
The manager incurred a one-match touchline ban at a hearing on Thursday, which in turn triggered a suspended two-match ban from last season. As a result, he will sit in the stand for Hibs’ first three domestic matches of the campaign, in addition to serving the remaining four games of a UEFA ban in the upcoming Europa League qualifiers.
“We were very disappointed but we’ll take the ban and move on,” Lennon said.
“I enjoyed the celebration. It was the last kick of the season in what was probably the game of the season and to me it was a bit of harmless fun.
“It’s something where a bit of common sense could have been applied in that aspect but sometimes you have to follow rules and regulations as well.”