Neil Lennon has revealed claiming second place in the Ladbrokes Premiership and European football can provide the cash which will help him revamp his Easter Road squad for next season.
The Hibs boss, who led his team to a stunning 2-1 victory over champions-elect Celtic on Saturday, admitted he’s facing “an interesting summer” as he looks to build on what has been a remarkable return to the top flight for the Capital club.
Dylan McGeouch looks certain to leave despite having had a series of offers put to him while his fellow midfielder John McGinn, the subject of speculation in every recent transfer window and for whom Hibs knocked back a bid from Nottingham Forest a year ago, only has 12 months of his current deal to run.
Strikers Jamie Maclaren and Flo Kamberi, both of whom have made a huge impact since their arrival in January, are on loan as is flying winger Brandon Barker and playmaker Scott Allan, all of whom are due to return to their parent clubs.
Hibs have an option on Swiss youngster Kamberi and although Lennon conceded his performances are bound to spark interest from elsewhere, a set fee has been agreed with Grasshoppers Zurich.
Securing Maclaren, however, may be more difficult, revealed Lennon, as the Australian hitman is under contract to German side Darmstadt although he has a clause in his contract which will kick in if the threat of relegation they face becomes reality.
Barker would appear to be out of Hibs’ price range given the wages on offer at Manchester City but Allan is clearly out of favour at Celtic, allowing a possible deal to be struck should Lennon wish.
Hibs’ head of player identification and recruitment, Graeme Mathie, is already hard at work but, insisted Lennon, he won’t know exactly where he stands until the end of the season.
The difference between finishing in the fourth place – where Hibs currently sit – and second is worth £560,000 in SPFL bonus money while Europa League football which would follow would also bring in extra cash.
Lennon said: “McGeouch is out of contract and McGinn has under a year to go so they are immediate concerns, as it were. There’s obviously recruitment. We are looking in certain areas trying to improve the squad. I will not have an idea where we are until the season’s finished and, if we can get a European place – and that is still a big if – it might dictate how much money we can spend.”
Hibs’ third season of Championship football led to the Capital club announcing a loss of £277,000 and, insisted Lennon, the club will continue to live within its means. When it was put to him that his former team-mate now turned pundit Chris Sutton had urged the Easter Road board to back him, Lennon said: “I don’t have issues or am at odds with the board.
“There’s a realism to what we are doing here. We are not going to overstretch. We will do what we always do which is work with a lot of common sense and good recruitment. The club is put in a good place.”
Lennon agreed the extra bonus money awarded by pipping Rangers and Aberdeen to second place would “be handy”, adding: “We have given ourselves a real shot in the arm with the win over Celtic.
“But there are still four really hard games to go.”