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Fenlon would happily swop his holiday for a trip to the January sales

PAT FENLON didn't even bother asking chief executive Rod Petrie about taking his team away somewhere for the winter break because he would far prefer to reinvest the money in his team.

Rather than a trip to Marbella next month – as Saturday's opponents Celtic have planned – the Hibs manager would be content with a trip to the January sales as he seeks to strengthen for the second half of the season.

A strategic priority is keeping hold of his three borrowed players – Leigh Griffiths, Ryan McGivern and Jorge Claros – after their current loan deals expire towards the end of next month, while the Irishman would neither confirm nor deny the suggestion that St Johnstone's Liam Craig could also be joining the Easter Road side.

"We're not in a position to go and take them away somewhere – we'd like to do that but we can't," said Fenlon. "I know where we are financially and if I had asked the answer would probably have been: 'Do you want to go away or do you want a player?'

"I'm realistic enough to know what the priorities are – maybe try to strengthen the squad and give the current squad a help and a lift. I'd like to add a couple to it if we can, but we'll see where we are when we come to a conclusion about the loan players. We're interested in two or three players in this league but don't want to talk about other managers' players."

The situation with the loan players is out of the Irishman's control and Fenlon admitted he has already started formulating a Plan B in the event that all three leave, which may have to be activated "very shortly".

"The loan contracts all expire within a week of each other, towards the end of January, between the 15th and the 21st roughly. So we are now at the stage where we have actively started to move on other options. We need to be able to bring in players if Leigh, Jorge and Ryan are not going to stay. But I am confident that one or two of the loan players will."

Hibernian sit in fourth place after the disappointing Boxing Day setback at home to Ross County, a good opening half which could yet become even better should they take positive results in their remaining games against Celtic and Hearts. Although they drew 2-2 at Parkhead earlier in the season, they haven't beaten them at home since December 2008 – a 2-0 win under Mixu Paatelainen which brought the birth of John Rankin's 'squiggler'. Fenlon is a huge admirer of the work Neil Lennon has done at Parkhead but feels there is no time like the present to bring that record to an end.

"I think at the beginning of the group stage, without being disrespectful, most people would have said that Celtic would be happy to be playing in the Europa League after Christmas," said Fenlon.

"So to come out of that group was a fantastic achievement. I don't really know Neil, just from going up against him the odd time, but he seems like a typical, fiery Irishman. He seems like a decent enough fella and he has done a terrific job."

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