HIBS manager Pat Fenlon has warned his out-of-contract players their Easter Road futures could hinge on what they do over the next few weeks.
In addition to Eoin Doyle, who has already agreed a pre-contract with Chesterfield, 11 senior first-team members are due to see their deals run out at the end of the season: Gary Deegan, David Wotherspoon, Alan Maybury, Shefki Kuqi, Pa Kujabi, Sean Murdoch and Kevin Thomson, as well as the four loanees, Leigh Griffiths, Ryan McGivern, Jorge Claros and Matt Done.
Although the likes of out-of-favour duo Kujabi and Kuqi look certain to depart, Fenlon insists many of that list can still influence his thinking for next season by how they apply themselves in this term’s remaining three SPL games and the Scottish Cup final.
“People talk about players playing for places in the final, but they’re also playing for contracts, so it’s a big three or four weeks for them,” he told the Evening News. “If players want to be in the team for the final or still here next season, they have got to go and prove their worth.
“There are still a few in the bracket where we need to make a decision on them in the next few weeks. Apart from the ones who are still under contract, and also Doyler, who has signed a pre-contract, there is nothing set in stone about whether anybody’s staying or going.”
Fenlon, meanwhile, insists he has no plans to rest any more players in the run-up to the Scottish Cup final despite giving Tim Clancy and Kevin Thomson the day off against St Mirren last weekend. Celtic manager Neil Lennon has admitted he will rest some of his key men in preparation for the Hampden showpiece three weeks on Sunday, but, while some Hibs fans would like to see talisman Leigh Griffiths, for instance, wrapped in cotton wool, Fenlon has no such plans. He said: “At the moment, there’s no temptation to rest Leigh or anyone else before the final. I want to win some games before the cup final so we’ll continue to pick a team that can help us do that. I want to finish as high as possible in the league, so we won’t be resting people for the sake of resting them. It was just that Tim and Kevin had had a lot of games in a short space of time without doing much training. We just wanted to give them a little break so we’re not over-working them.”
Clancy and Thomson are set to come back into contention for Sunday’s SPL trip to Kilmarnock.
n HIBS Under-20s stretched their unbeaten run to four games as they drew 1-1 away to St Mirren with Andrew Black scoring their goal.