HIBERNIAN’S fluctuating hopes of extending top goalscorer Leigh Griffiths’ loan deal until the end of the season took a sharp turn for the worse at the weekend when his parent club Wolves sacked their manager Stale Solbakken and replaced him with former Liverpool and Wales striker Dean Saunders.
The Championship club lured Saunders from his position at League One high-flyers Doncaster Rovers late last night, agreeing a compensation package with the Yorkshire club.
Griffiths, who has scored 14 goals for Hibs this season, is due to return to Molineux immediately after the last game of his loan spell – against Dundee at Easter Road on 19 January. With Wolves struggling to make headway in their quest for promotion back to the Premiership, and reeling from the FA Cup exit to Luton on Saturday that cost Solbakken his job, Saunders will want to evaluate his squad – and that may mean Griffiths is seen as a valued asset for the remainder of his contract.
If Saunders does decide he can do without Griffiths, Wolves may instead be keen to listen to offers from other clubs to boost their new manager’s signing budget. That scenario could leave Hibs ruing their failure to table a concrete, acceptable offer to bring the player to Easter Road on a permanent contract.
In a statement last night, Doncaster’s chief executive Gavin Baldwin confirmed the move.
“I have just come off the phone with Wolverhampton Wanderers’ chief executive Jez Moxey, at 8.50pm Sunday evening, and can confirm that Dean Saunders has agreed to take over as manager at Molineux,” he said on the club’s official website.
“We have agreed a good deal for Doncaster Rovers. Work has already started on trying to find a replacement for Dean and continue our push for promotion back to the Championship.
“I have spoken with Dean to thank him for the fantastic job he has done here at Doncaster and wish him well for the future.”