BY IAIN COLLIN –[email protected]_sport
HIBERNIAN are expected to conclude a move for former Inverness Caley Thistle forward Andrew Shinnie this week after a season-long loan deal was ‘virtually agreed’ with Birmingham City.
A source close to the player admitted the switch was ‘more likely to happen than not’ as Hibs head coach Neil Lennon seeks attacking reinforcements for his squad.
Lennon revealed his interest in the Scotland cap at the weekend and Birmingham counterpart Gary Rowett has confirmed that there has been contact between the two clubs.
Shinnie joined Birmingham in July 2013 when current Kilmarnock boss Lee Clark was in charge and made 28 appearances in his first season south of the border.
However, with Rowett taking over at St Andrew’s in October 2014, the 27-year-old has struggled of late to hold down a regular first-team place.
He was farmed out to Rotherham United for a month’s loan in January but failed to make a single appearance for City on his return and has not been involved so far this term.
The former Rangers trainee and Dundee loan player was an unused substitute for last Tuesday’s Capital One Cup defeat to Oxford United but did play for half an hour when Birmingham were defeated by Hibs last month in a pre-season friendly at Easter Road.
It is now expected that Shinnie will travel north to finalise the move to Hibs this week.
Rowett told his club’s website: “There has been contact between the clubs.
“I will never try and stand in anyone’s way. I would want to play football if I was a player.
“Hibs have made an enquiry. We have virtually agreed and now it’s down to one or two things that Shinns has to decide – whether he wants to go back to Scotland and various other things.
“In principle, it’s something both clubs think is probably a good move for him, although until it’s done it’s not done.
“I certainly hope that if he were to go to Hibernian, probably the biggest club in the Scottish Championship, I would think it would be a really good move for him.
“I would like to think they would dominate quite a few games and he would get lots of opportunities in the final third to show his undoubted quality, which we know he has got.”
A source added: “Andrew wants to be playing every week and be a main man on the team-sheet, and he’s not had that for a while.
“Hibs play a style of football that will suit him and will have a lot of possession that should get the best out of him. It should be good for both parties.”
Meanwhile, Lennon has showered praise on John McGinn following the midfielder’s ‘magnificent’ display in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Dunfermline.
The 21-year-old was integral to the Easter Road side recovering from last Tuesday’s Betfred Cup defeat to Queen of the South to make it back-to-back league victories and Lennon has revealed the Scotland cap responded in style to a pre-match pep talk.
The former Celtic boss said: “He was magnificent in everything he did. He’s a fantastic footballer and his attitude is unbelievable.
“He was disappointed with his performance the other night – but I wasn’t! I know he can play better but we can’t always put the onus on John.
“So, we had a wee chat with him before the game and I thought he was outstanding.”