Stalwarts' exits 'uncomfortable' but mutual - Hibs boss

Hibernian manager Nick Montgomery admits Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson's impending departure is "uncomfortable" but the decision was made "in conjunction with the players themselves".

Hibs announced on Tuesday that Hanlon, 34, and Stevenson, 36, would be moving on after playing more than 1,100 matches between them during nearly two decades at Easter Road.

Both players came through Hibs' academy with Stevenson making his debut in 2005 and fellow future Scotland international Hanlon following three years later.

“You lose two characters who are ultimate professionals that have given a lot to the club," Montgomery said.

"When you look forward it was a club decision in conjunction with the players themselves.

“We felt it was the right decision but change is difficult. It’s uncomfortable and some people are resistant to change but change is also good and is a positive thing moving forward."

Stevenson was named man of the match, aged 19, in the 5-1 win over Kilmarnock in the 2007 League Cup final at Hampden Park and both players had key roles in the 2015-16 campaign as Hibs ended a 114-year wait to lift the Scottish Cup.

Stevenson started every match leading up to the final while Hanlon scored the equaliser to force a replay against Heart of Midlothian in the fifth round.

They both started the 3-2 final win over Rangers, with Stevenson becoming the first player to win the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup with Hibs.

Hanlon, who has played 562 times for Hibs, has led the side on numerous occasions and was named club captain in the summer of 2021.

Stevenson became the club’s all-time record league appearance holder in February 2023, surpassing Arthur Duncan’s record of 449, and now sits on 599 overall appearances for the club.

They sit fourth and fifth in the club’s all-time appearance chart, behind Gordon Smith, Duncan and Pat Stanton.

Hibs owners the Gordon family said: “We thank Paul and Lewis for everything they have done at Hibernian. Their names will forever be written in the club’s history.

“They will always be considered among the greats at Hibernian, which is down to the tremendous roles they’ve played both on and off the pitch.

“Our final home game against Motherwell will give us a chance to bid an emotional farewell to them both and give them the send-off they deserve.”

'We need players who can cope with pressure'

Montgomery has five players - Myziane Maolida, Emiliano Marcondes, Eliezer Mayenda, Nectarios Triantis and Will Fish - on loan and 19 players out on loan - "some for development reason or some because they may not have been able to handle the pressure of playing for a big club".

And the Hibs boss said of his future recruitment: "We need players to come to the club who can cope with pressure and the expectation at a club like Hibs.

"We know we need to focus now on having a strong first team squad and that is part of the discussions we have had to make sure we have the strongest team possible on the park and on the bench.

"This club has big expectations, the fans have big expectations and there is a lot of pressure of playing at Easter Road. The crowd demand you win every game. Whether that’s realistic or not that’s what sometimes you have to question.

"It’s not realistic to win every game at home and you have to earn the right to do that. But if it’s not going well you need to show and get on the ball and make sure you handle that pressure.

"We have to have those conversations before they come because they have to buy in to what you want from them. I was very clear with that in the recruitment in January. People are saying it was probably the strongest window for a long, long time in the club's history."