Posts Tagged ‘ Barry Nicholson ’

Uncertainty Hampers Fenlon’s Plans For Next Season

As the Easter Road ticket office staff work overtime trying to deal with the large queues, and the conversations in the pubs and clubs of Leith have only one topic, Hibs manager Pat Fenlon has much more on his plate than the forthcoming Scottish Cup final.

Until the club are mathematically safe from relegation, his preparations for next season are on hold, although the former Bohs boss realises that another massive change in playing staff will be necessary if the club is to progress. Goalkeepers Graham Stack and Mark Brown will soon be out of contract along with Ian Murray and Garry O’Connor, whilst Leigh Griffiths and Richie Towell along with January arrivals James McPake, Tom Soares, Matt Doherty and Roy O’Donovan are all due to return to their parent clubs.

Media speculation has linked Hibs with Partick Thistle’s Paul Cairney, Dundee United’s Leith-born winger Danny Swanson, Barry Nicholson of Preston North End and Morton’s French youngster Fouad Bachirou, but Fenlon is frustrated that he cannot sign up the players he wants until he knows which division the club will be playing in next year.

Fenlon said: “We’ve been watching players, we’ve had people out all over the place watching games looking at players for next season but at the moment I’m not in a position to do anything.

“In relation to the players already here who we want to keep, we want to be able to give them that peace of mind as well. But we are in control of our own destiny.”

This weekend could see Hibs virtually safe if they can get all three points at New Love Street on Sunday and Dunfermline lose to Aberdeen at East End Park. These results would see Hibs nine points clear with three games to go, but if they went the other way, then only three points would separate the teams who have yet to meet.

Skipper James McPake has also banished all thoughts of Hampden from his mind as he prepares for the trip to Paisley, and warns his team mates about the threat from the Pars who fought back from 4-2 down last week to gain a point.

The former Livingston defender said: “Of course they’ll see a bit of hope, they’ve gained a point on us. But they still need two wins, perhaps three because of our superior goal difference but that can turn.

“Games may be running out but that point could prove to be massive if we do not get our heads right and get the victories we need to keep us in this league. There’s no way a club of this size should be fighting for its SPL status at this stage of the season but just being a big club doesn’t give you any divine right.

“We cannot talk about the cup because we are in a bad position, second bottom of the league albeit we are six points clear with four games remaining. But things can quickly turn. If we are thinking about the cup and have that in our heads then we’ll get a shock because we’ll be going to Inverness for our last game of the season either behind Dunfermline or needing to win to stay in this division.

“For this club that’s criminal. I’ve said from day one a club this size has to be in the SPL, there’s no doubt about it. The cup final is nothing compared to staying in the SPL for me.”

Meanwhile, Hibs beat Sunderland 1-0 in a closed-doors match on Wednesday, their goal coming via the penalty spot from former Sligo Rovers striker Eoin Doyle.