PAT Fenlon believes that the financial results announced by Hibernian this week are unlikely to have an effect on his plans for the next transfer window.
Hibs announced a loss of £900,000 for the year to 31 July, but the manager believes he still has a chance of securing the longer-term services of Leigh Griffiths, Ryan McGivern and Jorge Claros, the three players whose loan spells run out at the end of January.
“In January, we’ll see where we are, like we probably did at the end of last season,” Fenlon said yesterday. “We’ll see where we are financially, whether we have any money to spend or we don’t, or we have to move one or two players on to bring players in.
“I don’t think that will change in relation to the figures that were released this week. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
SPL top-scorer Griffiths is the priority target for Fenlon, but signing the striker appeared to become more difficult this week when Wolves said they would not sanction a further loan period. The Midlands club have said they are looking for £150,000 for the player, whose contract with them runs out in the summer, but Fenlon would rather any negotiating were done in private. “There have been two different statements made by them. We have spoken a lot about it and unless we have some clarity then I think we should leave it.
“We are trying to keep the three boys and until we have some news on them, that is when we will put it out to the supporters. At the moment, we will let it sit.
“We’re working away for the three players to see if we can keep them because I feel that they are an important part of the squad. If we can do it, great. If we can’t, then obviously we’ll have to look at other things.”
The possible loss of Griffiths has been a cause for anxiety among Hibs supporters for some time, but Fenlon appears to take a more philosophical stance. “I’m not that type,” he continued when asked if he worried about losing the striker, defender McGivern and midfielder Claros.
“If we can get it done, great, but if we don’t then there might be a shortage in areas where the three of them are. If we can keep these three players, brilliant, but we’ve got to make sure that we can get replacements for them. The three of them are quality players and if we lost the three of them it would be a worry, but if we can keep them it would be fantastic for us. It’s difficult with the way things are financially, because you can have a plan and say that you would love to get this player or that player, but it’s really down to money.”
Fenlon’s immediate concern is the battle between second and third in the league tomorrow, when Aberdeen visit Easter Road. Both teams lost last week, but to date have played far better than they did last season, when a match between the two had implications for the bottom of the table rather than the top.
“It’s true that, for a long time, Hibs-Aberdeen was seen as a really big game in the SPL,” added Fenlon. “Over the last few seasons, they haven’t been as big. So it’s nice that two big clubs with great traditions are at the right end of the table.
“Nobody has a divine right to be there, but when people ask where we want to be this year, we always say that the club is designed to be a top-six side. But you have to earn the right to do that. At the moment we’re doing that – we must continue to stay in that position.
“We’re confident, we like playing at home at the moment, so we’re looking forward to it. We are still disappointed that we didn’t reach the right levels last week, so this is a good chance to remedy that and put in a good performance.
“It hasn’t been that long since we had a setback – we lost to Ross County a few weeks ago and lost to Dundee United at the start of the season. On both occasions we bounced back well. As a team, you’ve got to be able to handle winning and handle losing. It’s how you cope with both that defines you.”