Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster is bracing herself for offers for Easter Road midfielder John McGinn with the January transfer window now open but insisted the Capital club are in a strong bargaining position because they have no desire to sell the Scotland star.
English Championship outfit Nottingham Forest had three bids for the 22-year-old rejected in the summer, Hibs boss Neil Lennon describing the sums offered as “laughable” but since then McGinn’s stock has continued to rise, leaving Dempster to concede they may be “tested” in the coming weeks. “Yes,” she said. “There’s a lot of speculation around John as to other clubs being interested in him.
“It’s well known we fielded an approach from an English Championship club in the August transfer window and John has gone from strength to strength from that period.
“So it’s inevitable when you have good people either working for you or playing at a club that there’s going to be interest. The important thing is we are in a good spot. I think the player is in a good spot, the management team are in a good spot. So we’ll see what comes towards us, but we are not out actively looking to market or sell any of our players.”
McGinn remains under contract at Hibs for another 18 months but while there have been informal talks regarding an extension there as yet been no indication if that might happen and it is obvious that as his deal runs down so his value in terms of a transfer fee might diminish.
Dempster, however, insisted Hibs will act in their own best interests pointing out how they resisted moves for top scorer Jason Cummings the previous summer given the importance of his goals to their bid for promotion, the striker assured that if he helpd the club do so they wouldn’t stand in his way, the upshot being he was sold to Forest for a fee less than that offered by Peterborough United 12 months earlier.
Adamant the Forest bids for McGinn “didn’t make us blink, didn’t make us think”, she said: “This is about our league position and what is best for us in the short and medium term.
“We don’t have a crystal ball. We might get tested and, if we do, we have to take a view on what that test is. But at the minute we are not out there trying to market a player or sell a player.
“It was the same situation with Jason. He was important to us the year of being promoted. We could have taken a bigger number for him prior to that but he was important for being promoted and it was exactly the same position with John.
“He was important to us and ultimately the offer made was not an offer that would give us any indication we’d even think about it.”
Whether Forest return in a further bid for McGinn following the sacking of former Rangers boss Mark Warburton remains to be seen, but Dempster insisted that while Lennon will be given every backing possible should he want to add to his squad this month, she wouldn’t be disappointed should the window close with Hibs having exactly the same pool of players.
She said: “I think we have a good, strong squad and we built that squad early to give us the opportunities.
“Like many clubs, we are going to go away to a training camp and get ourselves ready for the next part of the season, so if I came out with the same group of players, I would not be disappointed.
“Equally, if a player becomes available and Neil feels he needs to strengthen that position and we feel it is the right thing to do then, as in the past, we will go again like we did with Anthony [Stokes] coming in towards the end of the last transfer period.
“But Neil is very selective and decisive on the type of player he wants and unless that player or that type of player becomes available then it’s not just going to be a numbers job.”