Hibs hope to buy Reading’s Marc McNulty and sign Celtic’s Scott Allan before window closes
Hibs will attempt to sign Reading striker Marc McNulty this week despite head coach Neil Lennon being suspended and apparently heading for the Easter Road exit door.
The Edinburgh club will also step up their efforts to have Scott Allan, signed on a pre-contract deal to return to Hibs for a third time, complete his move from Celtic before the transfer window deadline on Thursday evening. Hibs have had a first offer for 26-year-old McNulty rejected by the English Championship outfit, where the former Livingston player has fallen out of favour under new boss Jose Gomes.
Sunderland, Wigan and Coventry City – where he scored 28 goals last season – are all said to have been monitoring McNulty’s situation, but it is understood the Edinburgh-born player is keen to return north of the border.
However, the shock news that Lennon’s two-and-a-half year reign at Easter Road is drawing to an end following a heated team meeting at East Mains won’t stop Hibs from trying to get a deal done over the next few days.
Ironically, McNulty was released by Hibs at the age of 16, shrugging off that disappointment as he joined Livingston where he soon began attracting the attention of clubs down south. He moved to Sheffield United in 2014 for a fee in the region of £100,000, but went out on loan to Portsmouth and Bradford before joining Coventry on a two-year deal.
But his goals for the Sky Blues in League Two brought him a move to Reading for an undisclosed fee, one of eight summer signings made by the Royals manager Paul Clement. However, Clement was sacked in early December, replaced by Gomes who hasn’t had McNulty in his matchday squads since.
Adding another striker to his squad this month was a priority of Lennon’s and, notwithstanding his absence, it remains so, with Australian hitman Jamie Maclaren poised to depart.
Maclaren returned on a season-long loan from German outfit Darmstadt during the summer following a successful six months at Hibs during which he struck up a prolific partnership with Flo Kamberi.
The Swiss striker has borne the brunt of much of Lennon’s ire in recent weeks as Hibs have slipped down the Ladbrokes Premiership, Sunday’s win against basement side St Mirren only their third in 15 outings, and the constant criticism of the 23-year-old is understood to have been central to the events which unfolded on Friday.
Kamberi, though, has netted ten goals so far this season but Maclaren, hampered at one stage by a back injury, has managed just one as he struggled to hold down a starting place, although he did make the Australia squad which reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup.
It is understood Maclaren has become unhappy with life at Easter Road and reports suggest that Melbourne City, a club owned by Manchester City, are “increasingly confident” of signing him before this Sunday.
Meanwhile, negotiations are continuing with Celtic aimed at having playmaker Allan take up the three-year deal he has agreed with Hibs immediately, rather than wait until his contract with the Hoops where he barely registers on Brendan Rodgers’ radar expires at the end of the season.