Jack Ross keen to keep Hibs loan quartet but doesn’t expect quick decisions

Jason Naismith, Stephane Omeonga, Marc McNulty and Greg Docherty have all made positive impact

Marc McNulty is on loan at Hibs until the end of the season. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS Group

Jack Ross has made it clear that he would like to hang onto the men he believes made a telling contribution to the club’s season but the Hibernian boss recognises that may mean a lengthy waiting game.

Jason Naismith, Stephane Omeonga, Marc McNulty and Greg Docherty will return to their parent clubs when the season eventually draws to a close, leaving the Easter Road outfit somewhat powerless to determine what happens next but Ross has not ruled out welcoming them back to Leith for the new campaign, saying there will be some key conversations between all parties when the time is right.

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Ross said: “All of them were here until the end of the season so as things stand they remain part of our squad because the season hasn’t been concluded yet. If the season is called, we revert to normal circumstances and they return to their clubs.

“But, all four of them have had a positive impact at the club. I think when you bring in loan players, and I’ve always thought the loan market is a difficult one to get right, there are a lot of misses as well as hits. But, the ones that were brought in have all contributed. Obviously Jason was there prior to me coming to the club and did well before sustaining his injury and the other three arrived in January and they have all had a positive impact. We were on a reasonable run of form and I think they all enjoyed it. But there are a lot of things involved in determining whether they will be back with us next season.

“There is so much uncertainty, generally, and they all have their own unique set of circumstances that need to be considered, whether that is their parent clubs’ opinion, the length left on their contracts, what their own plans are and whether their form with us has attracted attention from elsewhere.

“It’s not as simple as me saying I would like them to stay.”

Currently furloughed and on lockdown awaiting the decision of football authorities as to when, or if, the league will be concluded, and when the government believe the game can expect a return to some kind of normality, the Hibs manager has stayed in touch with his players –“more as friends than anything official” – and he says the club’s football department has made it clear to those charged with negotiating signings that the quartet all have something to offer moving into the new term.

“But, with loan players, you are not in control,” he added. “So we will see what their parent clubs say about them as we move forward and if they are available. Then we have to have a conversation with them as well because the way I see it, they have all had a positive impact and I’ve enjoyed working with them so it would be remiss of us to just ignore them and go and recruit someone else. But we are not in control. We’d like to know from the parent clubs if there is any chance of the player coming away from that club but it is up to them when they want to disclose that information and when they make that judgment.”

Experience tells him not to expect a quick call, while Hibs were in a similar position with both Omeonga and McNulty last summer and eventually had to walk away before a second opportunity presented itself in the January window.

“When you recruit a loan player, with the exception of maybe the younger players who clubs want to get out on a season-long loan to give them first-team experience, there does tend to be a wait,” said the Hibs boss. “Proven players don’t tend to become available until later in the window.

“I can understand that. I have done the same as a manager, you keep your squad a little bit bloated and put them through the pre-season before making judgments and deciding if they are to go out on loan. So, that is a difficulty for us. If there isn’t an early judgment made then we probably have to plan without them and look at alternative options but if the situation arises that we still need that type of player when they do become available then we can hopefully still do business.”

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