BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HIBERNIAN chief executive Leeann Dempster admits she is fully braced for interest in prize asset John McGinn this month.
A swathe of clubs have been credited with an interest in the 23-year-old, who has excelled in the Premiership this term and taken his tally of Scotland caps to five, with West Ham, Ipswich and Celtic among those reportedly monitoring his progress.
English Championship side Nottingham Forest were rebuffed last summer, albeit it remains to be seen whether the dismissal of Mark Warburton this week has dampened their desire to take McGinn to the City Ground.
After the transfer window creaked open on Monday, Dempster is realistic and pragmatic enough to know that Hibs could be ‘tested’ in their resolve to keep McGinn beyond January. She cannot guarantee he will not leave – money talks, after all – but the capital club will not be short changed.
“There will, of course, be a lot of speculation around John regarding other clubs being interested in him,” said Dempster. “There was an offer in the August transfer window and John has gone from strength to strength in the subsequent period.
“It’s inevitable that when you have good people either working for you, or playing at a club, that there is going to be interest.
“It is always about weighing up our league position and what is best for us in the short- and medium-term. We don’t know what the next month will bring, we don’t have a crystal ball we might get tested. If we are tested then we will consider that test.”
Forest made three bids for the combative midfielder, however none of those offers were sufficient to make Dempster ‘blink’. McGinn now has just 18 months left on his contract and is yet to enter serious talks regarding an extension, somewhat weakening Hibs’ bargaining position.
Nevertheless, Dempster is adamant they are not seeking to cash in on the Scotland star.
“The important thing is we are in a good place, I think the player is in a good place and the management team are in a good place,” she continued. “We will see what comes towards us in January – but we are NOT actively looking to sell our players.”
“It was widely reported that a Championship club bid for John last August. And, from our perspective, it didn’t make us blink. John is very important to us and ultimately we have not received an offer that would give us any indication we’d even think about it.”
Dempster has already shown a willingness to back the boss in the January transfer window by completing the signing of Dundee goalkeeper Scott Bain on loan until the end of the season with a view to a permanent deal.
Talks were also instigated with Northern Ireland internationalist Niall McGinn in December, albeit those efforts were in vain when he chose to return to Aberdeen on a three-and-a-half year contract.
Lennon remains keen to add quality to their attacking ranks in the coming month, while Lithuanian striker Deivydas Matulevicius will be allowed to leave Easter Road if he can find another club in order to free up a wage.
“If a player becomes available and Neil feels he needs to strengthen that position, then we will go again,” added Dempster. “That has been the case in the past, with Anthony [Stokes] coming in towards the end of the transfer period when we felt it was the right thing.
“But Neil is very selective and decisive on type of player he wants and it’s not just going to be a numbers job.”