Neil Lennon issues hands-off warning to Hibs suitors
Hibs boss Neil Lennon has handed out a 'hands-off' warning to any club planning on making a bid for any of his players ahead of Wednesday night's transfer deadline.
The Easter Road outfit have already rebuffed an eye-watering £1.7 million offer for top-scorer Jason Cummings and although he admitted he wouldn’t be surprised if there were further approaches in the next few days, Lennon insisted none of his stars will be leaving the club.
Although he is hoping to make one further acquisition himself, having brought in Grant Holt, Ross Laidlaw, Ofir Marciano, Andrew Shinnie and Brian Graham, Lennon admitted he’d be happy to go with the squad currently at his disposal.
Like other managers, Lennon is waiting for an answer from former Motherwell midfielder Tom Hateley as the free agent considers his options, but added: “There is maybe one position that we still need to fill to give us more depth, but I am pretty happy with the strength of squad we have at the minute.
“I looked at the bench last week and it was a lot stronger than it had been. It had been a bit thin, but having Andy and Brian in has really given us a jab that maybe the squad needed. It refreshes everything, adds to the competition and lifts the players and everyone associated with the club. You could see that in the way we played at the weekend.”
The fact Cummings has scored five goals in three games since Hibs knocked back Peterborough makes the 21-year-old the obvious centre of attention, but while he conceded he “probably” expects bids, Lennon said: “The answer will be the same. It will be no. We’re very secure in where we are.
“In terms of Jason, we worked really hard in the summer to get him on a long-term contract with the premise of ‘be here, let’s try and get promotion and we’ll take if from there’. Nothings has changed in that other than a sizeable bid came in, but we’re comfortable enough that it got turned down.
“Whether it be for him, John McGinn, Paul Hanlon or anyone else who is taking the eye, I want to keep this squad together. There may be changes over the course of the season, but going into September, I’m pretty confident we’ll have the players in place here.”
Hibs bid for a fourth successive Championship win against Morton tomorrow with Lennon expecting another bumper crowd after 16,477 turned out for his first home league game against Dunfermline.
He said: “I was watching Celta Vigo play at the beginning of the week and they had 16,000 at their game in the top division in Spain. We are in the second tier in Scotland and we matched that which was brilliant, absolutely fantastic. The players will respond to that sort of support.”
It remains to be seen if tomorrow’s gate will match the visit of the Pars, with somewhere in the region of 14,000 perhaps a more realistic expectation, but Lennon has no doubt the Hibs support feel their club is on the up.
He said: “The fall-out from winning the Scottish Cup has been immense, the feel-good factor means so much to so many people. They waited a long, long time for it and a massive weight was lifted off their shoulders.
“You can see the buoyancy around the place and we have to try and maintain it. We had a really healthy crowd for the first game and I think last week’s win [away to St Mirren] will signal another big crowd.”