HIBERNIAN have warned they will not lose David Wotherspoon without a fight after Pat Fenlon, the Edinburgh club’s manager, admitted he was wrong to omit the midfielder from his Scottish FA Cup Final squad.
Sheffield United have been monitoring Wotherspoon’s situation at Easter Road as they prepare to revamp their squad ahead of the new League One campaign.
But Fenlon, whose decision not to select the 22-year-old against Hearts fuelled speculation of a move, confirmed: “He is very much in my plans.
“Last year wasn’t a great one for him but I hope he comes back refreshed and wants to prove a point.
“He’s shown what he’s capable of doing but I feel he just needs to have a little bit more confidence in himself.
“He is such a good lad and his attitude to training is top class.”
Fenlon, whose team were beaten 5-1 by their arch-rivals at Hampden Park, added: “It was a difficult decision to leave him out as he had done very well in the semi and probably I should have had him on the bench as he was one who would have helped us from an attacking point of view.”
Although United have still to make an official approach for Wotherspoon – Danny Wilson revealed earlier this week he has yet to open talks with any potential targets – the manager did acknowledge his scouts have compiled dossiers on the Scotland under-21 international and other prospective signings.
Indeed, the SPL market, which Wilson is known to believe provides better value for money than other domestic leagues, has come under particular scrutiny from United’s coaching staff in recent months.
Dundee United defender Gary Kenneth and Marius Zaliukas of Hearts are also understood to have attracted interest from Bramall Lane although the latter’s £500,000 valuation is likely to prove prohibitive following United’s defeat in the play-off final at Wembley.
“We’ll have looked at most of those people you
mentioned,” Wilson told a media briefing earlier this week.
“We’ll have looked at them and know about them because that’s what scouts do; they look at players.
“Our networks constantly do that and keep us in touch with what’s out there all the time.”
Wotherspoon, a member of the Hibernian youth team which delivered a league and cup double in 2009, started his career as a full-back before being deployed in a more advanced role.
However, a series of impressive displays at international level, where he has forged an effective partnership with Huddersfield Town’s Jordan Rhodes, are responsible for grabbing United’s attention.
Billy Stark, Scotland’s under-21 coach, confirmed Wotherspoon had been “disappointed” not to feature against Hearts before including him in his squad for the European Championship qualifier against Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, next season’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy schedule has been confirmed by the Football League with first-round games, likely to be drawn in mid-August, starting the week commencing September 3.
The final will take place at Wembley.