Jack Ross speaks on Hibs futures of three out-of-contract players

Whittaker, Slivka and Bogdan discussions all put on hold

Vykintas Slivka is one of three Hibs players out of contract in the summer.
Vykintas Slivka is one of three Hibs players out of contract in the summer.

Hibs’ out-of-contract players have been left dangling as the club tries to navigate its way through the coronavirus shutdown and awaits a decision on the conclusion to the current season, as well as some concrete plans for the next.

Vykintas Slivka, Steven Whittaker and Adam Bogdan are the first team players stuck in limbo. All three become free agents when their deals expire on May 31 but manager Jack Ross has revealed that all talks have been put on hold.

“Without a definitive decision on the conclusion of the season, it makes it difficult to have meaningful dialogue,” said Ross.

“Only a few weeks ago there was talk that the season could be extended and UEFA were saying those contracts might be stretched until we could get the season finished in September or October. So all these things have been floating about and made it difficult to open up more dialogue and make a commitment to a player, not knowing what the future holds.

“That is why I feel that the sooner we can make some sort of decision about when we will finish or call a halt to the season, the more helpful it will be for a number of reasons.

“There are just too many unknowns at the moment.”

There remains a possibility that renewals may be agreed, at least in some cases.

But, much will depend on the players’ own thoughts regarding playing on and where they would like to see out the next spell in their footballing careers.

Signed by former manager Neil Lennon, Lithuanian Slivka, who is still just 25, and veteran Scotland international Whittaker each joined Hibs in July 2017 and, in the club’s first season back in the Premiership, helped them challenge for second place in the league.

Although they were ultimately pipped and had to settle for fourth, it did allow the Leith side a shot at European football.

Whittaker has been combining a football management course with playing and working on his coaching badges and has an eye for making the eventual switch.

Hungarian Bogdan, who initially joined on loan from Liverpool for the 2018/19 season and returned on a short term deal following his Anfield release last November.

“We had some informal dialogue but because we have so few out of contract and they each have different scenarios, we weren’t rushing things,” added Ross.

“Their situations were all individual and I don’t think we had finalised with any of them what our plans were or, indeed, what their plans were.

“Each of them have different things to consider moving forward and this stop has delayed those talks but I don’t think it will have impacted too greatly on the conversations we have already had.

“But we need some clarity or there is not much point in trying to formalise anything.”