Hibs manager Alan Stubbs’ immediate thoughts are concentrated on the play-offs but he revealed yesterday that he is also looking towards next season and hoping he can not only keep the bulk of his current squad together but add to it.
As things stand, club skipper Liam Craig along with Scott Robertson, Liam Fontaine, Lewis Stevenson, Tomas Cerny and Fraser Fyvie are all out of contract at the end of this season while the loan deals of Mark Oxley, Dylan McGeouch, Keith Watson and Martin Boyle are drawing to a close.
With a play-off semi-final coming up against either Rangers or Queen of the South, Stubbs does not know if Hibs will be in the top flight next season or consigned to another year in the Championship. Nevertheless, he is keen to tie most of his out-of-contract players. He said: “We knew what the parameters were at the start of the season. We wanted to go up automatically. We knew second best was going to be in the play-offs. From that point of view, it’s not surprised us. From a contractual point of view, we’re speaking to all the ones we want to at this moment in time.
“That’s already started. We would like to have tied up ones before now but a lot of clubs would be the same.
“We’ve spoken to all the players’ agents and we’re trying to work our way behind the scenes as football continues.
“I don’t think promotion has a huge significance. My budget is very competitive. If we go up, it may be that I may have a couple of more players. I’m working towards tying everyone down that I’ve got and then maybe one or two new contracts as well.”
Hibs are spending the week in Spain to prepare for the play-offs. Stubbs believes it is another sign of the Easter Road club’s determination to win promotion at the first time of asking.
The head coach revealed he has had the full backing of his board and claimed his budget has been stretched beyond its limit as the club did everything they could to give him all he needs in their push for a return to the Premiership.
“I’ve been given everything I’ve asked for,” Stubbs said. “The budget is probably more than it should have been. They’ve bent over backwards to try and help me put together something on the pitch that is going to take the team forward.”
Stubbs also believes the training camp in La Manga will benefit the players.
“They enjoy the sun but the most important thing as a group of players is that they enjoy each other’s company,” Stubbs said.
“This backs up the way the club have been with me this season. They’ve been absolutely fantastic and not just because they’re providing this trip.”