BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_sport
AS Paul Hanlon prepares to toast 10 years in the Hibernian first-team, one of the lessons he has learned is that no player at Easter Road is irreplaceable.
That goes for Dylan McGeouch, who continues to weigh up his future following talks with Sunderland after a magnificent campaign which saw him become a Scotland internationalist.
The same applies to John McGinn, a target for Derby and Celtic, and departed loan stars Brandon Barker and Scott Allan.
With a decade of experience and 345 appearances under his belt since making his debut in a Scottish Cup tie against Inverness in January 2008, Hanlon has played alongside the likes of Steven Fletcher, Derek Riordan, Garry O’Connor and Ian Murray.
All have excelled then departed, and he is adamant that, regardless of what this latest transfer merry-go-round brings, the Hibees will be stronger in the forthcoming campaign.
“That [interest] is just part and parcel of being at a club like Hibs,” said Hanlon. “You are not the top team in the league so when you have assets in the squad, people are going to be looking at them. It shows the success we’ve had in the past few years.
“People are coming to watch the games. It’s happened at Hibs many times – we sell players or they run down their contracts.
“However, we’re a big club and have a good recruitment set up ready, watching players all over the world.
“They are ready to fill the gaps that are needing filled.
“For the last few years there’s been the same core of players who have stuck around for a while now. There have been a few added in there here and there – we will adjust as we need to. I’m sure the squad will get even stronger between now and the first game of the season.”
Hanlon is adamant the Hibs players had no choice but to take the fiery Northern Irishman at his word when he suggested he would consider his position in the aftermath of a meek defeat against Hearts in the penultimate Premiership fixture of last season.
That Lennon will still be in the dugout next term is both a relief and a guarantee that standards will not be allowed to slip.
“He came out publicly and said it so you had to take it quite seriously,” recalled Hanlon.
“There’s a part of you worried the manager might move on because we all have a good relationship with him and we are all playing for him
“So we were all delighted when he came out and said he was staying and was committed for this season.
“It’s about keeping standards high, building on what we did last season and, with the manager we have in place, he won’t let us slip.”
Hanlon was speaking ahead of his testimonial match against Blackburn, managed by former Easter Road boss Tony Mowbray, on June 8 which – as well as being a fitting honour for the die-hard Hibee – will be crucial preparation for their Europa League clash against Runavik of the Faroe Islands four days later.
“We’ve managed to get into Europe so now we want to make the most of it,” he continued. “One of the scouts who went over and watched them sent me a text with brief bits about Runavik. I am sure the video team will be putting clips together for us to watch.
“The club worked quickly to ensure we got people over to see them and it just shows you the work that goes on and how in-depth they are in terms of preparation. It’s what you need to do, you can’t leave anything to chance.
“We’ve got to try our best to get through as many rounds as possible and see where it takes us. It would be massive financially for the club to get through to the group phase. We know it’s going to be tough but that’s what we played for all last season.”