Hibs to release Ian Murray but pursue existing loan signings

Murray is out of contract with Hibs this summer
Murray is out of contract with Hibs this summer

Hibernian will not be offering their captain Ian Murray a new contract but have indicated they will try to re-sign some of the seven players who have been on loan with them this season.

Murray has had an injury-hit season and will be released along with Scott Taggart and Sean Welsh.

Loanees will return to their parent clubs for the time being.

But Hibs said discussions over bringing them back to Easter Road would begin once players returned from holiday.

Hibs boss Pat Fenlon added seven players to his squad in January and they helped his side avoid relegation from the Scottish Premier League and reach Saturday's Scottish Cup final.

Hibs said in a statement following the Hampden final that the 5-1 hammering by their city rivals highlighted the need to rebuild their squad.

However, at least some of the players on loan appear to have done enough to persuade Fenlon that they are worth pursuing on a longer-term basis.

James McPake, who joined Hibs from Coventry City along with forward Roy O'Donovan, took over as captain in Murray's absence and the defender's form led to a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad this week.

Striker Leigh Griffiths and defender Matt Doherty face uncertain futures under new Wolves manager Stale Solbakken.

Defenders George Francombe and Richie Towell and midfielder Tom Soares will return to Norwich City, Celtic and Stoke City respectively, Hibs have announced.

Welsh has been on loan with Partick Thistle in Division One
Welsh has been on loan with Partick Thistle in Division One

The 31-year-old Murray, who has rarely featured for Hibs since Fenlon took over, made 295 appearances during two spells at the club.

"I want to thank everyone for their support, especially this season with my testimonial," the utility player told Hibs' website. "I've loved my time at Hibernian.

"To be fair to the gaffer, things have moved on and changed since he's come in, so there's no real surprise for me."

Murray, who plays in defence and midfield, had returned to Easter Road in 2008 after a disappointing spell at Norwich City, having ended his first spell with Hibs by joining Rangers.

He has been troubled with a hip injury this season made only four appearances after Fenlon took over from Colin Calderwood in November, playing no part in Saturday's final.

Fenlon said: "I'd like to thank 'Nid' for his dedication to the club. He's been a great pro for Hibernian.

"It's been unfortunate he hasn't played a lot since I've been here due to injury, but it's been great for me and the coaching team to have him around the place."

Striker Garry O'Connor also appears likely to leave Easter Road, but there was no word from Hibs about whether he and goalkeepers Graham Stack and Mark Brown were being offered new deals.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old defender Taggart, who ended the season with a second loan spell at Stranraer, exits the club after making only three Hibs appearances.

The 22-year-old midfielder Welsh failed to break into the Hibs first team and ended the season with Partick Thistle after earlier loan spells with Stenhousemuir and Stirling Albion.

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