Pat Fenlon’s New Year’s wish will be to keep Griffiths, Claros and McGivern
HIBERNIAN manager Pat Fenlon will not turn down any funds he is offered to make moves into the transfer market, but his priority in the New Year will be to hold on to three players who are currently in his squad.
Leigh Griffiths, Jorge Claros and Ryan McGivern are all at Easter Road on loan until January, and Fenlon believes that, at this stage of the squad’s development, consolidation not further recruitment will be the key to continued progress.
Hibs chairman Rod Petrie said earlier this week that attendances for the rest of the year need to improve in order to help Fenlon “sustain the improvement again in the January transfer window”. Petrie did not specify how any extra funds would be spent, but yesterday Fenlon said that work had already begun on keeping striker Griffiths, midfielder Claros and defender McGivern at the club beyond the end of their current loan periods.
“I haven’t had talks with Rod about the January budget,” said Fenlon, whose team will go top of the SPL again, at least for a day, if they beat St Mirren tomorrow. “I’m getting on with my job – that [the budget] is what the board are there for. I’ll let them get on with that and I’ll get on with managing the team and when it comes to January we’ll see where we are. I’ve been delighted with the players we have at the moment. The squad is very good, very strong, and we’re chuffed with that. It’s about keeping concentration and keeping it going and making sure we don’t get complacent.
“When we get to January we’ll see where we are as a club and if we can do something, great, and if not then I’m happy with what we’ve got. The work we’re doing at the moment is to make sure we hang on to the three boys. It’s really important for us to do that and that’s what we’re concentrating on. If there’s anything else to do come January then great, but that’s where our work is at the moment.
“We want to tie the boys down who are up in January. It’s always a worry when they’re playing well – and the same goes for those who are out of contract at the end of the season – that someone will come in for them But that’s football, and if you’re playing well it will attract people, particularly us because of the way we’ve transformed our form from last season, so it might alert people to the fact there are some decent players here.
“That’s the way it goes – and if someone wants to give us a load of money for one of them then even better, we can spend it. You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth but the key is to let people know we’re working hard to tie the loan boys and those who are out of contract at the end of the season.”
The latter category includes David Wotherspoon, Gary Deegan, Eoin Doyle and Lewis Stevenson, and keeping them beyond the summer also appears dependent on increased attendances at Easter Road. Fenlon would naturally be delighted to see crowds rise above their present level, but he is fully aware that the disappointments of recent seasons could make many Hibs supporters wary about returning any time soon.
He said: “It’s gradually creeping up, and hopefully it creeps up a little bit more on Saturday. That’s the part we can play – if we play well and get results and you get bigger crowds, it can benefit everyone. There have been a couple of years where it’s not been nice to follow the club. We have lost a section of support because of that. I don’t think we can do much more as a club because the stadium is fantastic and the facilities are great.
“It’s a good place to come and watch games – once the product on the pitch is good enough. We’ve got to make sure we’re producing something that will bring people back through the turnstiles. That’s happened slowly, the fans have bought into it, but we must continue to do that. I’m not sure if fans think ‘if I go to the game the manager will get a better budget’.
“I think they look at it and say ‘Hibs are struggling. I’m not going to go’ or ‘Hibs are doing well so I’ll go’. They go because their team are doing well and to be fair we’ve sold a fair amount of season-tickets on the back of a couple of bad seasons. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. If we’re winning matches, you’ll entice people back. It’s happening on a slow basis and it will be interesting to see where we are on Saturday crowd-wise, but I’m hoping for a little rise.
“I don’t think Rangers being out of the SPL has had any impact on attendances. Our crowds are down because the team has been struggling for a couple of seasons. It’s as simple as that and the facts are there to back that up. If we’re producing a good Hibernian football team then the fans of the club will come and watch. That’s been proven over the years. When Hibs have had a good team on the park the attendances have been decent.”
Deegan, who has a broken jaw, is out of hospital but still some way off resuming training. Danny Galbraith has returned to training after a long injury.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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