Hibs boss Neil Lennon has insisted Simon Murray’s shock move to South Africa was the striker’s best option as he’d struggle to hold down a jersey at Easter Road.
The Capital club accepted a £150,000 offer from Premier Soccer League outfit Bidvest Wits for the 26-year-old, last season’s top scorer despite spending the second half of the campaign on loan at Dundee. The hitman was an instant success after arriving as a free agent from Dundee United last summer, scoring ten goals in his first seven games and then a derby winner against Hearts.
However, the goals dried up and Lennon refashioned his strikeforce by bringing in Florian Kamberi and Jamie Maclaren on loan during the transfer window, the pair instantly forming a prolific partnership which helped drive Hibs to fourth place in the Premiership.
Murray returned from Dens Park determined to fight for his place but has now accepted his future at Easter Road is bleak.
Lennon admitted allowed Murray to go had left him short up front with only Kamberi and youngster Oli Shaw on the books although he’s looking to bring in new faces once tonight’s Europa League tie with NSI Runavik in the Faroe Islands is negotiated.
He said: “I didn’t feel Simon would play that much – he wasn’t really at the forefront of our minds in terms of how how we want to play this season. We brought him in for nothing. We got a good offer for him which we feel is beneficial for the club and him. He realises he’d have found it difficult to get a regular spot. He quite fancies the challenge of playing in a different environment and culture and financially I think it’s quite rewarding for him as well.”
Murray’s departure will undoubtedly raise speculation that Australian striker Jamie Maclaren, who is determined to leave his German club Darmstadt despite having two years left on his contract, may return. However, Lennon insisted he wouldn’t comment on players under contract elsewhere. But he did say: “We have four or five options we are trying to pursue and we want to try to get some business done as quickly as possible but a lot will depend on John McGinn’s situation as well in terms of how much money – if any – we have to spend on players going forward.”
Lennon revealed Paul Hanlon was left behind to recover from a virus, the defender expected to return to training tomorrow and be ready for the Europa League second qualifying round against Asteras Tripolis.