Annoyed that both of his Championship Player of the Year nominees have said they will be mulling over their future in the summer, Lennon responded by reminding them of the “cast-iron contracts” they have at Easter Road.
Cummings said he wanted to challenge himself “at a higher level”, claiming that his job at Hibs was done and that he had achieved what he wanted to do. Asked if he would be turning out for Hibs in the Premiership, McGinn said that he intends to sit down to assess his options ahead of the new campaign.
But, as far as Lennon is concerned, those options are limited. “Jason and John, they won’t be going anywhere unless this club wants them to go, not unless we get an offer that we deem fit for our purposes,” the Hibs boss said. “Until that happens, they will be playing for Hibs.
“We have to do what is best for Hibs. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was interest in both those players and, I’m sure, some other players as well, but like I said they are on cast-iron contracts so if anyone is interested it is going to cost them a lot of money.”
Keen to avoid a major rebuilding project, Lennon believes he will have the backing of his board if it comes to playing hardball, citing their rebuttal of advances for the Cummings at the start of this season and the willingness to sign both players on lengthy contracts. Cummings is tied to the club until 2020 while McGinn has two more years left on his contract.
“We were a Championship team that turned down £1.8 million [for Cummings from Peterborough] and now we are a Premiership team so any potential suitors will know that while every player has a price, that will be dictated by the club and not anybody else.”
Returning to the top flight after three years, Lennon says many out-of-contract players, such as Darren McGregor and Lewis Stevenson, have been offered new deals and he is still hopeful Efe Ambrose will sign on a permanent basis. He will sit down with the on-loan defender next week to gauge where he sees his career going when his Celtic contract expires in the summer.
“That’s something we’re looking into,” Lennon confirmed. “It’ll depend on his own personal circumstances. He’s just had a baby boy. Does he want to stay in Scotland? If so, there aren’t many better clubs outside Celtic than here. Does he see himself in England? If so, there are visa issues he’d have to consider. He has a lot to think about over the next couple of months.”