Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom has insisted Oli Shaw will only be allowed to leave on loan if he can bring another striker into Easter Road – but that player won’t be Jason Cummings.
Premiership outfits Kilmarnock, St Johnstone and St Mirren, along with a clutch of Championship clubs, are all understood to be interested in taking the 21-year-old forward on a season-long loan.
Shaw, who has become frustrated with a lack of first-team action with Hibs, last started a match for Hibs back in February against Celtic in the Scottish Cup and so far this season has made only three appearances from the bench, all in Betfred Cup ties.
While wanting Shaw to stay and fight for his place, Heckingbottom is willing to grant the player’s wish – but added any deal “must pay for itself”.
The head coach said: “There are clubs who will take Oli, we know that. But we’re not letting him go unless we get someone else in. That won’t change. Unless we can get a replacement in, nothing will change.
“There’s interest from the Premiership and Championship, but it’s nothing we can pursue right now. Oli knows the situation, so we’ll wait and see.”
News that Nottingham Forest are willing to offload former Hibs striker Cummings, who has spent much of his time on loan at Rangers, Peterborough and Luton since his move south two years ago, has excited some Hibs fans who’ve been fondly recalling his 71 goals in 150 appearances in a green and white shirt,
But asked if there was any interest in the 24-year-old, Heckingbottom replied bluntly: “No.”
Heckingbottom was also adamant that there’s nothing to block Shaw’s path, the only other strikers in his squad being Swiss hitman Flo Kamberi and Christian Doidge – a summer recruit from Forest Green Rovers.
However, he has also made it clear what it will take for him to win a place in the starting line-up, saying: “Oli is a good lad but he’s frustrated and wants to play. Well, score goals and work hard and you get in the team.
“He wants to go out and play games but we’ve told him what he needs to do here and provided him with an opportunity. I feel we’ve recruited in a way where we’ve not put anything in his path to get in the team. We want him here.
“I want him to stay here, fight and get in the team. Oli is 21 now. When you are 18 or 19, people say ‘he looks a good young player’. All of a sudden, you are 21 and you are judged differently, whether by fans or staff.
“Expectations are different. It’s about getting him to that next level and we have provided him with every opportunity. We are clear in what we want from him and what will get him in the team.
“That’s not changed - it’s Oli who wants to go. One thing we can’t do is weaken our options so he can’t go unless we bring someone else in.”