Neil Lennon has confirmed that Hibs would have attempted to bring Scottish Cup hero Liam Henderson back to the club if John McGinn had been sold on transfer-deadline day.
The 21-year-old Celtic midfielder spent a fruitful loan spell at Easter Road under Alan Stubbs in the 2015/16 season which culminated in him setting up goals for Anthony Stokes and David Gray in the famous Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers 16 months ago.
Henderson has been largely out of the picture since returning to his parent club and Hibs, who have been monitoring his situation over the past year, would have been keen to sign him if Nottingham Forest had met their valuation for Scotland midfielder McGinn.
“Only if the McGinn thing had gone through,” said Lennon, when asked how close Henderson was to returning to Hibs. “We were weighing up options and that would have been one of them. We’ve always admired Liam but with John staying, we didn’t need to make a move.”
Lennon confirmed that Forest made three bids in total for McGinn but didn’t get close to meeting Hibs’ asking price. “We had a valuation of the player and we engaged with Nottingham Forest,” he said. “They made a couple more bids after the initial one, which was nowhere near good enough. The second and third ones were more respectable but they still didn’t come anywhere near the valuation we have of the player.
“I was always confident we would keep John. It puts us in a good light in terms of how healthy the club is financially that they don’t have to go chasing the money.”
Although McGinn was open to the idea of joining Forest if a fee was agreed between the clubs, Lennon believes more time at Hibs will benefit him ahead of a potential move to England in the future. “I think he wanted us to engage with Forest and we did that, and he was happy with the outcome,” said Lennon. “We don’t have an issue with that at all. I think there’s more to his game he can work on. He’s only 22 so he’s only a boy really in terms of football parlance. I don’t think he needs to go yet, I’m not sure he is completely ready to go yet. There’s still more time for us to develop John and for John to develop himself into a more all-rounded player.”