Hibs look to next season with deal for Liam Craig

Liam Craig will arrive at Easter Road in the summer. Picture: SNS
Liam Craig will arrive at Easter Road in the summer. Picture: SNS
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LIAM Craig has signed a pre-contract agreement with Hibernian which will see him move to Easter Road in the summer. An earlier move could still be agreed but is dependent on the midfielder’s current club St Johnstone, according to Hibs manager Pat Fenlon.

“We’ve got a pre-contract with Liam for next season, so he will come on board at the end of the season,” said Fenlon. “He’s a good player and different to what we have. I’ve liked him since I came into the league, to be honest. I think he’s improving all the time.”

Craig has signed a two-year deal and Fenlon would gladly have him in his squad now, but appears not to hold out a great deal of hope. “I’m not too sure, to be honest,” he continued when asked if the move might be completed earlier. “I think it will be end of the season, if I’m being realistic about it. He’s a decent player, although it’s difficult to talk about players at other clubs. It will be their decision at the end of the day.”

So far since the window opened, Fenlon has allowed winger Ivan Sproule to leave for Ross County, and succeeded in extending the loan deals for both Leigh Griffiths and Ryan McGivern. The striker’s value to Hibs has been much discussed, but Fenlon has been just as impressed by McGivern, whose loan from Manchester City will now run until the end of the season.

‘It was a relief to sort out the loan deals with Leigh and Ryan. It was good to get it done and I’m delighted they both agreed, because they’ve been big players for us this season. We worked very hard as a club to make them happen.

“Ryan has been a really important player for us. When he’s played he has been fantastic. He is a really good defender, but he also gives us an option as an attacking full-back as well. He came in at the start and since he came in I don’t think there are too many games where he has let us down. He can play centre-half as well, which is a plus for us. We’re delighted to keep him and we’ve got that unity with the back four. It was key we got him to stay until end of the season.”

Fenlon still hopes to reach agreement on his third loan player, midfielder Jorge Claros, whose parent club Motagua are still open to negotiations. “We have a time frame in the club. We can’t let it run down to the last minute, because it’s very close to deadline day. We’ll make a decision. If it’s not happening, then we will make a decision ourselves and move on. He’s very keen to stay. He’s doing as much work as me at the minute to make it happen.

“Realistically, I think it will be until the end of the season if we can get that far with it. Anything after that, I can’t see it happening, but we’ll be keen to keep him until the end of the season. If we can do something longer term we would be interested in that as well, but we’re not in a position to pay transfer fees for anyone at the minute.”

Meanwhile, both winger Danny Galbraith and full-back Pa Kujabi have been told they can find new clubs. Kujabi has only featured in one match since his disastrous Scottish Cup final contribution against Hearts – when he was sent off after conceding the penalty for Hearts’ third goal in the 5-1 defeat. “Danny has been training with Dunfermline and he is looking to get another cub at the moment.

“Pa has not been in the team and not been around the squad in the while,” said Fenlon. “We’ve also said to Pa that you can find yourself somewhere else. It’s difficult with Pa, because he has a fantastic attitude to the game but it’s been difficult for him to get in the team. With Ivan Sproule moving on, we would like to bring someone in to replace him. And we’ve got to see where we’re going with Jorge to see if he stays. If he goes, we’ll need to replace him, as well. You are always looking, not necessarily just for this window, but for the end of the season, as well. So you’ve got to keep doing that as a manager.”