Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon says the Leith club will step up their efforts to persuade Dylan McGeouch to sign a new contract, and has described fellow midfielder John McGinn as “irreplaceable”.
As the clock ticks down towards the closure of the January transfer window on Wednesday evening, Lennon is bracing himself for interest in Scotland internationalist McGinn amid reports that English Championship side Cardiff City watched the 23-year-old in last weekend’s Scottish Cup loss at Hearts. McGeouch’s future is also in doubt as the player stalls on agreeing fresh terms, with Aberdeen said to be ready to pounce should the former Celtic trainee allow his current deal to expire this summer.
With that in mind, Lennon insists the Easter Road outfit are preparing to table an improved offer to the 25-year-old.
While McGeouch is fulfilling his potential after being hampered by injury woe in recent seasons, McGinn has been a regular standout performer since joining from St Mirren two-and-a-half years ago.
The Scotland internationalist was the subject of failed bids from Nottingham Forest and Ipswich Town last summer and Lennon is not looking forward to the likely prospect of having to seek a replacement for the influential player.
“We’ve had no inquiries for John as yet but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t interest in him,” said Lennon, who is concerned that the rigours of three games in six days will prove too much for his players when they travel to Celtic today.
“He’s a huge player for the club. If he were to go, he would be more or less irreplaceable in the short term, that’s for sure.
“He’s been a real lion for the club in the last couple of years.
“You are always working on things but to find a player of John’s ability right at this minute would cost a lot of money. So we need a lot of money in for him.
“He looked back to his best on Wednesday at Dundee.
“He played really strongly and it was good to see that as he’s been a little bit off colour in recent games and even before the break.”
Asked whether there was any progress on his bid to prolong McGeouch’s contract, Lennon said: “We have made Dylan an offer and we are going to make him an another offer. That will happen in the next couple of days.”
The final days of the transfer window are likely to be typically fraught for Lennon.
Talks are set to continue with Grasshoppers striker Florian Kamberi, who has been on trial, while Lennon admitted that there had been interest in Anthony Stokes, with the club said to be keen to offload the marksman following another breach of discipline during the recent training camp in Portugal. On Kamberi, Lennon said: “He’s trained again. His representatives are here and we’ll have a chat with them.
“But nothing will be done over the weekend. If anything is going to be done one way or the other it will be next week.”
Lennon confirmed Stokes would again be omitted from the squad for the trip to the east end of Glasgow.
He added: “He’s not in contention for Celtic. There’s been one or two inquiries but nothing definite.
“I’d hope to draw a line under it as soon as possible. He knows the position and my position on it.
“Hopefully by the end of the month we’ll have a resolution.”