Hibernian manager Neil Lennon confirmed he is chasing both Grant Holt and Scott McDonald and says he has the go-ahead to sign both strikers, provided he can convince them that the Scottish Championship offers them a big enough footballing challenge.
Keen to add some more experience to the squad he inherited, the Easter Road gaffer has met with 35-year-old Holt and 32-year-old McDonald and is hopeful that deals can be done.
“Nothing is confirmed yet so I can’t guarantee anything,” he said. “But obviously they are two players I know; Scott from my time at Celtic, Grant from my time at Nottingham Forest, and obviously he had great success with Paul Lambert [at Norwich City].”
Lennon has been following the former Norwich forward’s career and only an untimely knee injury stopped him trying to sign him while he was manager at Bolton.
“But he has recovered well and looks in decent condition,” added Lennon. “But it’s all to do with how the medical goes and if we’re happy with it and he is happy with it.
“With Scotty, we are down the line in talks, but not over the line just yet.”
Declaring he has been pleasantly surprised with the ability and attitude of the players since they returned for pre-season training, the new Hibs boss still wants to add three or four new faces and is targeting at least two additions ahead of their foray into Europa League qualifiers on 14 July. Pinpointing the frontline of the team as an area that needs to be bolstered, he says that experience is important to help bring on the promising starlets already in the squad.
Declaring that the likes of Jason Cummings and John McGinn will not be sold on, and happy with assurances from the board that he will be able to keep the youngsters on the books as he attempts to guide the Leith club back to the top flight in his first season at the helm, he says the key will be getting the right balance,
“We want to get promotion and those two had great seasons last year,” said Lennon. “I want them to build on that. There is interest in both of them, but we are not under any pressure to sell.
“I have already spoken to Jason. John has a prolonged break because of Scotland duty, so I will speak to him when he comes back and tell him he is going nowhere!
“If I wanted to sell them I could push it through, but I don’t want to do that. Jason got 25 goals and at 20 has a lot of potential. He’s far from the finished article but I think he’d be better with us and we can develop him for another year or two. He can enjoy it here and being in an environment that he knows and he can develop.”
Holt and McDonald could be instrumental in helping with that according to the man who wants to enlist them.
“I think Scott and Grant would be very good for him and the fact that they are making waves to come here speaks volumes for their attitude,” added the Hibs boss. “I’m sure they could get more money elsewhere but they are thinking about here for football reasons and for a manager that’s a great sign.
“It’s a really important position. I like what I’ve got with Cummings and [James] Keatings but I think we need a bit more to support those two. Certainly, in Grant’s case, I don’t think we have a physical presence at the top end of the pitch. He knows his way around a football pitch and has played in all the leagues in England. So he is very experienced and actually got better as his career went on. Obviously it has been curtailed by the cruciate injury, but I think he still has a lot to offer.
“Scott, I thought, had a fine season with Motherwell [last term]. But, like I say, nothing is done yet. We are just in talks at the minute.”
The size and ambition of the club are things that excite Lennon and lured him to the second tier of the Scottish game and he believes that is what will eventually entice the experienced target men.
“I think it’s a club that has potential and it’s one that players would enjoy. It’s a big city club and if you do well here it does wonders for your profile,” said Lennon.
“We have inherited a very good squad of footballers. I have to say I have been really surprised by the quality of player that we have here. Not only by the quality of the football and football intelligence, but their attitude towards training has been really good.”