HIBS manager Pat Fenlon is open to the idea of former striker Kenny Miller returning to Easter Road.
The Scotland international is with Vancouver Whitecaps but has failed to set North America’s Major League Soccer alight since joining the Canadian side midway through the season and it is understood he is keen to engineer a move back to the club where he first made his name.
Miller, who has scored twice in 13 games for Whitecaps, has not played a competitive match since the beginning of the month, when he came on as a substitute as Whitecaps side lost to David Beckham’s LA Galaxy.
With a long gap until the start of the new MLS season in March, Miller is back in Scotland and has been linked with a return to the SPL.
Currently training with another of his former clubs, Rangers, a short-term switch to the Leith side has been mooted, as has a more prolonged loan deal. But, while Fenlon says he has been notified of the player’s alleged interest and admits he is curious, he added that he has yet to speak to Miller or his agent.
Fenlon said: “It’s been mentioned to me in the last few days but it’s not something we’ve actively done anything about. Is he available and does he want to come and play for us? You never know. He’s a fantastic player and we look at all options to try and improve the team.” Fenlon, who celebrates a year at Hibs today, has overseen a massive turnover in personnel and is desperate to keep improving. With last season’s relegation battle behind them, this campaign has, thus far, been about pressing Celtic at the top of the SPL. But Fenlon knows he needs greater strength in depth and is wary of the team’s over-reliance on Leigh Griffiths for goals.
“We’re actively looking at players in that position as we’ve known for a while that Leigh – in addition to [fellow loan players Jorge Claros and Ryan McGivern] – might not be here after the middle of January. We need to have options in place in case he isn’t. If Kenny’s an option, then great. I don’t know if we could afford him.
“We might have to go down the road of believing in the young lads because Ross Caldwell and Danny Handling are doing well at the moment. The last thing you want to do is stagnate their progress. We have to get the balance right.”
Unless a deal can be reached, Miller, pictured, is expected to return to Vancouver for pre-season at the end of January. The 65-times-capped Scotland international last played for Hibs 12 years ago before leaving for spells at Rangers, Wolves, Celtic, Derby County, Bursaspor and Cardiff City.
If Hibs cannot reach an agreement with Wolves to sign Griffiths – and it is understood the Midlands club want £150,000 for him – then Miller may be the experienced head Hibs need. Fenlon added: “I hadn’t thought about Kenny Miller but, without getting too much into it, I’ll have a look at all the options.”
Long-term, Fenlon is looking to revitalise Hibs’ academy structure to restart the conveyor belt of talent which served the team and, ultimately, club coffers well in the past. For now, though, the Irishman has insisted on a change of focus when it comes to the scouting and
recruitment of players.
The success of midfielder Paul Cairney – signed in the summer from Partick Thistle – has been a reminder that affordable talent is on the doorstep. Fenlon said: “I’m not being critical of what has gone on before but that’s one thing we looked at in relation to how we restructured our scouting. I felt that Scotland had been a wee bit neglected. We were maybe looking outside too much when maybe the answer is closer to home. Over the next few weeks, we will be bringing in other people who will work in that area.
“There are players in the First, Second and Third Divisions at that age, like Paul, 24-25, who have maybe gone back and are then [going] forward again. We have to make sure we are covering that. It would be criminal if we were missing out on players here. If you are missing out on them because of finances, then fine, there’s nothing you can do. But if you are missing out when they are on your doorstep, then that’s not right.”
On Wednesday, Fenlon faces St Johnstone, who provided the opposition in November last year, the day after he took the Hibs job. He watched from the stand as his new side meekly succumbed 3-1 but this time it is likely to be a more even contest.
In his first year Fenlon has experienced highs and low. Overall, though, he is content with the progress. He said: “As a manager, you want to see improvement on a regular basis. We have improved but we are not sitting on that thinking, that’s great, we’re now where we should be, we want to kick on. We are not fooling ourselves, there’s still a fair bit of work to be done.”