BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Paul Hanlon is hopeful Hibernian can stay strong in the face of a concerted offensive from Rangers to try and force through the transfer of Scott Allan.
The Easter Road outfit issued a firm ‘hands off’ to Rangers on Thursday, with head coach Alan Stubbs even phoning Ibrox counterpart Mark Warburton personally to tell him Allan was not for sale.
However, with further bids since then and the player appearing keen on a move to his boyhood heroes, the Light Blues seem determined to try and land their target.
The matter has provided an intriguing backdrop to the meeting of the clubs in today’s (Saturday’s) Petrofac Training Cup tie in the capital.
And Hanlon is optimistic Hibs can ultimately hang on to their star performer for the coming push to win promotion back to the Premiership.
The defender said: “Everyone’s just kind of asking (Scott) what’s happening and he’s not saying a lot. Hibs are not selling him; that’s all I’ve heard so far. Hopefully it stays that way.
“You saw last season how important he is. He only scored two goals but the number of goals he set up with assists must easily have been double figures.
“He’s a big part of our team, he makes a lot happen for us, and he’ll only get better this season.
“It’s definitely a confidence boost for the fans to hear that Hibs are in a strong position to say ‘no, Rangers are our rivals, we’re not selling to them’.
“I hope it stays that way.”
Hanlon insists Hibs took bags of confidence from the tie between the teams at the same stage of the competition 12 months ago, despite the capital outfit losing at Ibrox.
A red card for Danny Handling in the 59th minute, with the game tied at 1-1, swayed momentum towards Rangers, who progressed 2-1 after extra-time.
And Hanlon expects today’s lunch-time kick-off to provide both clubs with another insight into what could lie ahead this season.
Asked about Warburton’s assertion the match was just another part of Rangers’ pre-season preparations, Hanlon added: “If that’s the way they think is best to plan their season then that’s fair enough.
“If I’m picked to play against Glasgow Rangers, I’m going to give it my all.
“It will be a good indication of where we are at. We’ve all worked really hard through the pre-season.
“The original plan was to make (the tie) more of a pre-season game but as soon as you draw Rangers it’s a big game and a big one for the fans.”
* Hanlon was speaking as Petrofac Training Services launched its new half-time challenge, Keep Up With the Kids, featuring parents taking on their children. It makes its debut when Rangers visit Easter Road today.