London Hearts Supporters Club

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25 of 039 ----- L SPL A

Hibs and Hearts prepare for busy deadline day

Mike Aitken
CELTIC will need to come up with a blockbuster fee before the transfer window closes today in order to persuade Hibernian to change their minds over selling their international striker Steven Fletcher. The clubs are thought to remain miles apart over a valuation for the forward.
The Easter Road club expect their lines of communication to be busy in the hours before the transfer window closes at 5pm this afternoon, with Billy Davies' Nottingham Forest believed to be preparing a financial package they hope will be enough to tempt Hibs captain Rob Jones to the City Ground.

Hibs manager Mixu Paatelainen insisted again at the weekend that he wants both players to stay, insisting Fletcher would be ill-advised to consider a move to Celtic Park at this stage of his career, and he will face an anxious afternoon.

When Peter Lawwell, Celtic's chief executive, contacted Rod Petrie, the Hibs chairman, about Fletcher, the telephone conversation was brief and didn't even reach the point where the Parkhead club made a formal offer for the 21-year-old forward. Every player, of course, has a price. Though Hibs have declared their intent not to enter into negotiations for Fletcher, it might be impossible for the club to turn down a sum approaching the £4.5 million which Celtic paid them for Scott Brown.

With Celtic believed to value Fletcher at around half that amount, it remains to be seen if Hibs will have their resolve undermined by the kind of offer which brooks no resistance.

The Easter Road club, unlike a number of others in the SPL, are in a financially robust position. Petrie and his board of directors are under no pressure to sell an asset at a bargain price. Under contract with Hibs until 2013, Fletcher's value is expected to increase, hence why the club won't negotiate a cut-price deal.

It's been claimed that Celtic wanted to offer a player in part exchange as well as cash for Fletcher, with Paul Caddis thought to be available. Chris Killen was also mentioned in dispatches before joining Norwich on loan until the end of the season. While Hibs want Fletcher to stay, at least in the short term, they know the forward will move on eventually. When Real Madrid drew up an extensive list of some of the most talented young players in Europe, Fletcher was among those who caught the eye of the Spanish club's scouts.

If a move to the Bernabeu always seemed on the far side of fetched, there's no reason why Fletcher shouldn't set his cap at playing in the English Premier League. After selling Steven Whittaker and Kevin Thomson to Rangers as well as Brown to Celtic – Gary Caldwell, Killen and Derek Riordan are among the others who moved from Easter Road to Celtic Park – it's easy to understand why Hibs might rather see Fletcher head south than along the M8 to Glasgow.

Knowing he has youth on his side and that a move to a bigger club will come when the time is right, Fletcher has so far not rocked the boat at Easter Road by formally asking for a move. On the other hand, the chance to join Celtic appeals to the player. Fletcher said: "I'm excited at the thought of moving to Celtic Park. I'm ambitious and would love to play for them. I'm at a stage where I want to win things and play in the Champions League. Celtic will give me that chance.

"For the development of my career it is time to move to a bigger club. It will help me and improve my chances of playing for Scotland. If I get the chance to go to Celtic I don't plan to be sitting on the bench. It's within my capabilities to make a worthwhile contribution to Celtic and their push for silverware. But it's out of my hands and that's a little frustrating.

"I've been in the Hibs first team since I was 17 and have enjoyed every minute. Hibs have been good to me and I will always appreciate that – but it's time for me to progress and I hope that is taken in to account."

Paatelainen appreciates Fletcher is bound to have been unsettled by talk of a move to Celtic Park and made a point of speaking to the player about all the speculation. "I had a chat with Fletch and we discussed the bid we received and I told him that I don't think it is the right time for him to move on," said the Finn. "Eventually, as we all know, there comes a time when players move on and change clubs, but I don't feel the time is right yet. Hibernian is in a strong position at the moment where we don't have to do anything if we don't want to."

Hibs have also rejected a number of bids from Colchester United for Jones, but the big central defender is now firmly on the radar of Forest, who are likely to step forward with a bid today.

Some wondered after the 1-1 draw with Motherwell if Jones' gestures of appreciation to the home crowd were a sign he was preparing to leave Easter Road. However, Paatelainen reckons his key men are going nowhere. "I am confident that both players will still be with us beyond the transfer window," Paatelained added. "They are key players in our team. I would not read anything into Rob staying behind to applaud the supporters at the end of the game as he does that after every game. He gives his all and shows his appreciation after every match for the supporters."

Dean Shiels, however, looks on course to leave Hibs for Doncaster today, subject to a medical. The Northern Irishman was in the stand to watch Hibs on Saturday, but will head to Yorkshire today to conclude a move with the Coca-Cola Championship club. Rovers manager Sean O'Driscoll said: "We could have waited until the end of the season but we have done a deal that suits everyone: they get something for him and we'll pay a bit more if we stay up."

January transfer moves


Ins: Javan Vidal, (Manchester City, loan)

Outs: Jeffrey De Visscher, (SC Cambuur Leeuwarden); Stuart Smith, (Peterhead)

Speculation: None


Ins: Niall McGinn, (Derry City, £200,000); Milan Misun, (FK Pribram); Willo Flood, (Cardiff City)

Outs: Paul McGowan, (Hamilton, loan), Chris Killen, (Norwich, loan)

Speculation: Steven Fletcher (from Hibs)


Ins: None

Outs: Roy O'Donovan, (Sunderland, end of loan ) Keith Watson,(Forfar, loan), Ryan McCord (Stirling Albion, loan), Sean Fleming (Albion Rovers, loan); Gordon Pope, (Montrose, loan); Willo Flood, (Cardiff, end of loan)

Speculation: Craig Levein looking for at least one midfielder on loan


Ins: Steven Pressley, (FC Randers); Dani Mallo, (Braga)

Outs: Russell Latapy, (coaching with Trinidad & Tobago); Scott Flinders, (Crystal Palace, end of loan)

Speculation: None


Ins: Paul McGowan, (Celtic, loan); Jordan McMillan, (Rangers, loan); Kenny Deuchar, (Real Salt Lake); John Sullivan, and Padraic Ormsby, (both Bohemians)

Outs: James Grady, (Morton); Chris Casement (Ipswich, end of loan); Tony Stevenson, (Clyde, loan); Sebastian Sorsa, ; David Graham, (Dunfermline)

Speculation: None


Ins: Calum Elliot (Livingston, end of loan)

Outs: Jamie Mole, (Dunfermline, loan); John Armstrong, (Cowdenbeath, extended loan); Anthony Basso, Christophe Berra, (Wolves, £2.3m)

Speculation: Csaba Laszlo chasing a defender as replacement for Berra


Ins: Jonatan Johansson, (Malmo), Grzegorz Szamotulski, (free agent); Denes Rosa, (Wolves)

Outs: Thierry Gatheussi, , (Inverness); Filipe Morais, (Inverness);

Speculation: Abdessalam Benjelloun, (to KSV Roeselare), Steven Fletcher (to Celtic), Dean Shiels (to Doncaster), Rob Jones (to Nottingham Forest)


Ins: Pavels Mihadjuks, (Ventspils); Thierry Gatheussi, (Hibernian); Filipe Morais, (Hibernian); Richie Byrne, (Oldham); Eric Odhiambo, (Leicester City); Richie Foran, (Southend United)

Outs: Barry Wilson, (Queen of the South); Rory McAllister,

Speculation: Brian Kerr, (in as free agent), Don Cowie, (to Watford)


Ins: Kevin Kyle, (Coventry City)

Outs: Rhian Dodds, ; Chad Harpur, ; David Cox (Elgin City); Scott Anson, (Annan Athletic, loan)

Speculation: Martyn Corrigan, (Ross Co)


Ins: Artur Krysiak, (Birmingham, loan)

Outs: Gunnar Nielsen, (Blackburn, end of loan); Ross Forbes, (Dumbarton, loan)

Speculation: Gary Teale, (from Derby)


Ins: None

Outs: Jean-Claude Darcheville, (Valenciennes); Lee Robinson, (Queen of the South, loan), Chris Burke, (Cardiff); Jordan McMillan, (Hamilton, loan)

Speculation: Allan McGregor, (to Newcastle), Alan Gow, (to Norwich), Barry Ferguson, (to Bolton/Newcastle)


Ins: Steven Thomson, (Brighton)

Outs: Craig Molloy, (Stenhousemuir)

Speculation: None

Taken from the Scotsman

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