NEIL LENNON is hopeful of keeping his title-winning Hibs team together for life in the Premiership after revealing ‘all’ of his out-of-contract players have been offered new deals.
The Easter Road outfit have a significant number of players coming to the end of their current deals at the club, with the likes of Darren McGregor, Fraser Fyvie, Lewis Stevenson, Grant Holt, Marvin Bartley and skipper David Gray all free to move on in the summer.
However, Lennon, whose side clinched the Championship with Saturday’s 3-0 win over Queen of the South and Falkirk’s failure to beat St Mirren, wants the core of his side to remain in place to give the capital men momentum for the step up to the top-flight.
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He said: “All the players were offered new contracts.
“So it’s up to the players to accept or, if they want to, move on. It’s now up to them.
“Do they want to play in the Premiership at a good club like this?
“If they want to go somewhere else for more money that’s their prerogative.
“It would be a shame (if some left) because momentum is all important when you get promotion.
“It’s important to keep the squad together. They are a good bunch and they’ve enjoyed some success in the last year and a half.”
Hibs have taken time to get themselves over the line in the Championship race, drawing 13 times, but have only been beaten three times and have won with three games to spare.
With a Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen to look forward to now on Saturday, Lennon will be optimistic of making a big impact on the Premiership next season.
And, after proving themselves capable of raising their game against top-flight teams in the last couple of seasons, most notably in winning the Scottish Cup last year, the former Celtic boss believes his squad can thrive now they are no longer big scalps themselves.
He added: ”I think the players need Premiership football – it would showcase them at their best.
“It’s difficult here at times when teams camp in and make it difficult to beat them and don’t really add a lot to the games.
“Next season will be different. There will be better quality players, the games will be more open and I think that will suit Hibs.
“I am very excited. I have been thinking about this day for a few weeks. It’s a sense of pride and achievement.
“I’ve won the Premier League a few times and I’ve won the Championship and there’s not many managers who can say that.”