Hibs Fans Look Forward to Exciting Summer
Neil Lennon looks to be targeting proven SPL stars as he seeks to strengthen a playing squad which secured the Scottish Championship whilst rarely moving out of second gear.
The release this week of six players will immediately free up some funds albeit bar Grant Holt, the other five departures could never have been classed as first team regulars throughout the 2016/17 campaign.
Ambitious Hibs CEO Leeann Dempster has set a record breaking 12,000 season ticket sales figure which she hopes will provide Lennon with the financial muscle to encourage his preferred targets to perform in Leith.
Shaun Maloney, currently plying his trade with English Premiership side Hull was linked with both Hibs and top flight runners up Aberdeen during the week with the Scotland international, capped 47 times by the national side, being released by the Tigers at the end of the season.
Loanee for the final third of the successful promotion campaign, Efe Ambrose, is also high on Lennon's wanted list and he hopes to secure a deal to keep the Nigerian on a permanent basis once his Celtic contract expires at the end of the month with the 28 year old centre half admitting a deal at Easter Road would be hard to turn down such is his depth of feeling for the Hibs boss who brought him to Scotland from Israeli outfit FC Ashdod during his time in charge of Celtic.
Mentioning the Israeli outfit, 'keeper Ofir Marciano who, Scottish Cup semi final apart, has proved a valuable asset between the sticks throughout the campaign and having been recalled to his national squad, featuring in the recent defeat to Spain, his permanent arrival at the club seems a likely conclusion to his loan spell.
Hibs have also been strongly liked with Scottish Cup winning Legend Anthony Stokes who having produced a man of the match performance in the 2016 showpiece final against Rangers whilst on loan from Celtic, was deemed surplus to requirements at Parkhead almost as soon as the Brendan Rodgers revolution began in Glasgow's East End.
Having opted to try his hand down south once more, the Irishman joined Owen Coyle at Blackburn however the move turned sour for both with Coyle lasting barely six months in the hotseat whilst a loss of form, injury and recently "personal issues" have saw Stokes feature rarely for the relegated Lancashire club now managed by Tony Mowbray, formerly in charge of the Hibees and the man who nurtured the so-called golden generation of young talent at Easter Road during his tenure.
However it appears Mowbray is prepared to cut his club's loses on the striker as he seeks to reshape his squad ahead of a League One title tilt and speculation is rife it could lead to a third spell at Easter Road for Stokes who has limited options elsewhere.
Lennon's biggest challenge during the transfer window may be to keep a hold of star performers John McGinn and Jason Cummings with likely interest in both from south of the border whilst Celtic are said to be interested in the former as a possible long term replacement for Scott Brown.