John McGinn believes Hibs can reap the benefits of continuity after retaining the core of the team which has won the Scottish Cup and Scottish Championship title over the past year.
The contracts of several of Neil Lennon’s players were due to expire this summer, casting an element of doubt over whether or not a squad which had enjoyed such a fruitful period together would remain intact for the step up to the Premiership next term.
However, it has already been confirmed that stalwart quartet Darren McGregor, Marvin Bartley, Lewis Stevenson and David Gray, along with back-up goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw have signed new deals, while Liam Fontaine and Martin Boyle have agreed to stay on.
Fraser Fyvie, Ofir Marciano and Efe Ambrose could also remain at Easter Road, and McGinn, who is under contract for another two years, is thrilled to see that a squad which had formed a strong bond will not require a major summer overhaul.
“From the club’s point of view, it was important to get promotion out of the way first, but I’m delighted to see so many of the boys getting signed up, and hopefully a few more follow,” McGinn told the Evening News. “We’ve got a good nucleus of proven players here who get the club and what it means to the supporters, and I think they enjoy watching us. It’s brilliant that we’ve got the boys signed up, and hopefully we can add more quality.
“Over the last couple of years, there’s been a real feelgood factor about the place – there’s a real connection between everyone right from the chairman, to the cleaners, to the supporters. Everyone involved with the club enjoys being here, and I think it’s important not to just sweep that away and build again. It’s important to keep it together, and we have done this summer. We all get on really well, so hopefully we can add the right types to what’s here.”
McGinn admits he was slightly anxious towards the end of the season about the number of Hibs players due to become free agents, with only six first-team regulars initially committed to the club beyond this summer. The Scotland midfielder takes encouragement from the belief that, after retaining so many familiar faces, Hibs will not be undermined by a major period of summer transition as they embark on their Premiership campaign.
“Towards the end of April, we had a lot of boys going out of contract,” said McGinn, who was yesterday named Ladbrokes Championship Player of the Season. “Me being under contract and seeing the rest of the boys playing for their contracts wasn’t nice. But the promise was there that if we got promoted, the discussions would start, and that’s what happened.
“We’re very fortunate because, if you look at Hearts over the other side of the city, I think they struggled to gel in the second part of the season because they had so many new players flung together.
“We all know each other well and know each other’s strengths and weakness. We’ve really got to know each other over the past couple of seasons, so if we can carry that on into the Premiership, it’ll give us a bit of a boost.”