Hibs boss admits next season’s targets will depend on transfer movement

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Hibs head coach Neil Lennon admits next season’s Premiership target will depend on what happens to his squad during the summer.

The Leith outfit racked up their highest ever top-flight points total when they finished fourth on 67 points last term following three years in the Championship.

Hibs, who will enter the Europa League at the first qualifying round stage next month, were also in the hunt for second place right up until the penultimate game of the campaign when they were beaten by city rivals Hearts.

McGinn has been in fine form for Hibs

However, former Celtic boss Lennon is well aware that the core of his squad could be ripped out during the transfer window, with Dylan McGeouch out of contract and Scotland midfielder John McGinn continuing to attract attention.

Lennon also wants to bring back Scott Allan and Florian Kamberi following the success of their respective loan spells from Celtic and Grasshoppers.

The Hibs boss is keen to build on last season but admits and comings and goings in the next three months will dictate whether they can challenge at the top end of the league.

Lennon, who has been handed the biggest budget in the club’s history, said: “I won’t be able to really answer that (next season’s expectations) until I have a fair idea of what my squad’s going to be, there will be a bit toing and froing between now and the season starting. Work has been going on behind the scenes.

“We’re going to try and be competitive.

“The club’s healthy, which is great. We know the realism of the budget as well, so we’ll try and use the money as wisely as we can.

“You strive to (challenge Celtic), we had a good season half to the season and Kilmarnock had a great season as well.

“The league was far more competitive than it was in the previous year and the calibre of manager is very high and (Rangers manager) Steven (Gerrard) coming in adds more profile.

“It’s exciting, Celtic are very strong with the resources they have but it’s been proved they can be beaten.”

Former Celtic trainee McGeouch has been linked with Rangers, Hull City, Sunderland and Blackburn and Lennon is refusing to throw in the towel in his bid to retain the 25-year-old.

He added: “It wound’t surprise me if there were clubs interested in Dylan, he’s a free agent and he had a wonderful season last year.

“We feel we’ve made him a good offer and we’ve had no negative feedback but it’s still a long-shot.”

Lennon, who led Celtic into the last 16 of the Champions League in 2012, admits he is relishing a return to Europe with Hibs.

The Easter Road outfit were beaten by Danish side Brondby in the Europa League shortly after he took on the reins two years ago.

Lennon added: “We had a great year last year, but it’s gone and we’ve got something to really get our teeth into when we get back early for the qualifiers, so that’s very exciting.

“We had a little bit of an expedition when I was only just through the door really.

“We lost 1-0 at home and had a great win in Copenhagen. The players showed that they can perform at that level.

“You need a bit of luck with the draw in terms of travelling and the opposition but it’s not insurmountable and it’s something that we’ve earned the right to be in.

“We’ll be working really hard to try and get things right for the start because you have to hit the ground running and hopefully make some progression.”

 
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