JORGE Claros’s future at Easter Road will be settled today, according to Pat Fenlon.
Hibernian have been negotiating for weeks with the midfielder’s Honduran parent club, Motagua, whose president warned yesterday that time was running out if they wanted to extend his loan.
But Fenlon, who has already successfully secured the services of Leigh Griffiths and Ryan McGivern for the rest of the season, did not appear flustered when discussing the issue yesterday.
“We’re still working on it,” Fenlon said. “We’ve been working very hard for three or four weeks.
“And I’ve been working away over the past two or three days to see if we can resolve the Jorge situation and bring in a wide player – and obviously if Jorge goes to look to bring in someone there as well. So it has been busy.”
Asked if there was a possibility of agreeing a permanent transfer of Claros, Fenlon replied: “We’re in a position to get a permanent deal if he doesn’t cost us any money, to be honest. We have been working away on that.
“Let’s see where it gets to. I think in the next 24 hours it should be resolved.”
Earlier, Motagua president Julio Gutierrez tried to turn up the heat on negotiations by saying that other clubs both in America and Europe were interested in Claros. “Jorge Claros has offers from the MLS and other European clubs,” he said. “We will look at the offers and his options.
“He has indicated he wants to stay in Europe, but Hibs have only a few days left until the transfer window closes and they must do something soon. If not, he either returns to us or goes elsewhere.”
Hibs have been linked with Gregg Wylde, of Bolton, and Jason Kennedy, of Rochdale, but Fenlon refused to confirm or deny his interest in either player.
“I learned a bit of a lesson last week – I said we were looking for a wild card and since then we’ve been looking for everyone available. We are looking for a wide player. There are a few names that have been thrown about, and I’m not going to say which ones are accurate.
“We’re looking in that position and we want to bring in a player that can fit the bill in what we need. I’m always reluctant to talk about players from other clubs till something is really ready to do.”
While the retention of Claros would mean another loan player remained central to Fenlon’s plans, the manager insisted that his main emphasis was on building a team for the longer term. Midfielder Liam Craig has agreed a pre-contract and will move from St Johnstone in the summer, when the market is more conducive to making permanent signings.
“We’re also mindful that we’re looking to build a team here for the long term,” Fenlon went on. “It’s not just short term. We don’t have too many loan players in. We want to try build a squad and build a unity that we think can go places.
“That’s important over the next couple of transfer windows is that we’re looking to build something rather than just bring players in for the short term all the time.
“We were in a situation last year where I don’t think we had much of a choice but to do that when I came into the club, in January, because most players are available longer term come at the end of the season. But I think we have brought in some quality players. We’ve got a few out of contract that we’ve started negotiating with in relation to keeping them here longer term.
“We would prefer to look at longer term, but that doesn’t rule out certain areas where you’re bringing one or two on a short-term basis.”
Hibs have everyone available for their league game at Pittodrie on Sunday afternoon. They have lost both of their previous games against Aberdeen this season, but Fenlon thinks they have been unfortunate, particularly in their home fixture in November.
“I think the games have been really tight. We should have won the game here, but disappointed at the end. If you lose football matches and play really well it can be disappointing for a period.
“But when you reflect on it you can take a lot of positives out of it, and I think we’ve got to do that with the game we lost here, where we felt we should have got something out of the game.
“But there have probably been cases where we haven’t played as well and won matches. That’s just football and you’ve got to be able to deal with it.”