Hibs hopes of luring Marc McNulty back to Easter Road could be scuppered by Reading’s determination to recoup the £1 million they spent to sign the striker only 12 months ago.
The Royals snapped up McNulty on a four-year contract last summer after the Edinburgh-born hitman had notched 28 goals for Coventry City the previous season. But only months later the Championship outfit replaced manager Paul Clement with Portuguese coach Jose Gomes who immediately made it clear the player wasn’t in his plans.
As a result 26-year-old McNulty opted to join Hibs on loan until the end of the season, a spell which brought him eight goals as Paul Heckingbottom’s side clinched a top six finish and international recognition as he won his first two caps against Kazakhstan and San Marino under then Scotland boss Alex McLeish.
Heckingbottom has made no secret of the fact he’d like to see the former Livingston player back in a green and white shirt but conceded Reading control the situation and as such has other targets in mind.
It is understood talks are ongoing between the two clubs with McNulty, inset, who has intimated his desire to return to Hibs, due to report back to the Madjeski Stadium on July 1, Heckingbottom’s players having reported for the start of pre-season training yesterday.
However, Reading, are prepared to play hardball, seeking to recover the seven-figure sum they paid - or at least the major share of it - as they find their own summer recruitment plans severely hindered by financial restrictions.
Gomes has gone on record to say needs to trim his squad , and quickly, but despite six players being released at the beginning of May, he still has a first team pool of 25 and needs to further offload before he can make signings.
A further loan deal could be a possibility for McNulty but given their financial position, Reading are believed to prefer pulling in a transfer fee to completely remove the player from their wage bill.
McNulty retained his place in the national squad as Steve Clarke took charge although he didn’t get off the bench against either Cyprus or Belgium and, he admitted, continuing to play Premiership football north of the border was probably the best way for him to continue to press for further caps in future.