Hibs boss Neil Lennon has revealed all of his players whose contracts are about to run out will be offered new deals – regardless of whether they win promotion.
First-team regulars skipper David Gray, Darren McGregor, Lewis Stevenson, Fraser Fyvie, Marvin Bartley, James Keatings, Martin Boyle and Ross Laidlaw are among those in that situation.
And while Lennon had previously revealed it was difficult for the club to begin negotiations with them until it was decided whether the club would be playing Premiership or Championship football next season, he has now cleared the way for talks to begin.
He said: “We have told them all that they will be offered extensions. That will take place in the new year and it will be regardless of promotion.
‘So that gives the players a clear incentive.” Lennon conceded, however, that it would be likely such offers would take into consideration the club’s status at the end of the season, saying: “I don’t deal with the financial side of things, but common sense would dictate that there would be a best and worst case scenario in terms of the deals we can offer them.”
While it may take some time for each particular player’s future to become clear, Lennon’s immediate concern is the absence of key players through injury with Dylan McGeouch joining John McGinn, Fraser Fyvie, goalkeeper Ofir Marciano and Danny Handling on the injury list, leaving him with “literally 18 or 19” players at his disposal going into tomorrow’s Championship clash with Morton and further crucial games against Raith Rovers and Falkirk.
Although striker James Keatings is back in training and is likely to be on the bench at Cappielow tomorrow, Lennon is considering turning to an emergency loan or two, revealing he’s already made inquiries while refusing to rule out the possibility of new player arriving on such an arrangement in time for the match.
Lennon, speaking as he enjoyed the Ladbrokes “Football Star In A Rally Car” event at Knockhill racing Circuit, is also determined to strengthen his squad during the January transfer window with Celtic midfielder Kris Commons among the names mentioned as possible arrivals although he hasn’t played first-team football since April.
But he admitted: “Ideally, you would have had guys that have been playing. But sometimes those players aren’t available – certainly not in the emergency loan window. January gives you a different option, with the possibility of getting players who have been playing and have maybe been deemed surplus to requirements at other clubs.”