Neil Lennon has admitted he faces a huge challenge to rebuild his squad for next season but the Hibs boss is confident the Easter Road club will manage that task.
The Hibs boss is facing the loss of a number of players with midfielder Dylan McGeouch already heading for the exit door as his contract expires while question marks remain over the likes of Jamie Maclaren, Florian Kamberi, Scott Allan and Brandon Barker, who will all return to their parent clubs as their loan deals come to an end.
Lennon expressed the hope that one or two or them might return for next season, the Capital club already having first option and a fee agreed for Swiss hitman Kamberi who, along with Maclaren and Allan, was on target as Hibs ended the Premiership season with a record points tally having drawn a hugely-entertaining game with Rangers 5-5 having led 3-0 with only 27 minutes on the clock.
But, he added, there has to be a realism about the situation, saying: “We will assess it and see if we can find others. There are plenty out there. We’ve done it before and we will do it again. Maybe not as good, but maybe better. You don’t know.
“I have good recruitment people in the background that work very hard day in, day out. It’s very hard to please me but it’s another challenge that lies in store. It’s a big challenge and sometimes you are wondering should we be in that position of having to rebuild again having had two years of success.”
Lennon, however, was adamant he has no quibble with the Easter Road board, many taking his outburst following last Wednesday’s derby defeat by Hearts – in which he said he’d have to reconsider his future and his own aims and ambitions – as a sign all was not well in that regard.
But, having made it clear he intends to stay, Lennon said: “The board have given me all the backing they can. What I said the other night is nothing to do with them. They had surplus funds for me in January if I wanted them to bring in another player if I wanted to do that.
“I didn’t because I was happy with what we had. I have never, at any club, gone banging on the chief executive’s door saying ‘gimme, gimme, gimme or I’m going’. I do not do that.
“I spit the dummy out when we lose, but when I am working with the board members or the chief executive I understand the reality of where we are.”
Lennon also revealed he’d cleared the air with his players following his accusations that they were unprofessional and amateurish at Tynecastle in a chat on Saturday after he’d returned to the training ground having been absent through illness the day before.
He said: “I had a chat with them and they realised in the cold light of day I was right. Sometimes they need to be whipped. Everyone goes ‘he should not have said that about the players’. Why not?
“They get lauded plenty of times but, if they are not preparing themselves properly for games – and it’s the small details that add up – then it’s their fault they did not do the basics well enough or prepared properly.
“In the first five minutes, I had three players slip over – that’s not good enough for me.
“There was no hangover from it. You could see that when we were 3-0 up after 27 minutes. Sometimes you need to whip them. If they cannot take it, then they should not be here or in football.
“But they can, they accept it and get on with it. They don’t sulk. It stings for a couple of days. It stung me. But sometimes you have to do it and they have responded brilliantly. They should be very proud of themselves – the fans are and I am.”