Nick Montgomery wants change to be good for Hibs as long-serving players move on

Lewis Stevenson and Paul Hanlon will depart upon expiry of their contracts at the end of this season.

Nick Montgomery insists Hibernian must view their upcoming transition period in a positive light as they prepare to begin life without club stalwarts Lewis Stevenson and Paul Hanlon.

It was announced this week that the long-serving duo – both of whom have been in the first team for more than a decade – will depart upon expiry of their contracts at the end of this season. Hanlon, 34, made his Hibs debut in 2008, while 36-year-old Stevenson’s bow came in 2005.

Montgomery, who spent the vast majority of his own playing career at Sheffield United, acknowledged Hibs are losing “two good characters, ultimate professionals who have given a lot of sacrifice to the club” but said the club must embrace change even if it feels “uncomfortable”.

“It’s pretty rare now in football,” the manager said of their length of service. “Speaking on my own terms, I spent 15 years at one club and played 400 games, so I understand (their situation). I sort of left overnight and that was it, you move on to the next chapter.

“Paul and Lewis have been great servants to the club and they will leave with every blessing from myself and the club. They’ll always have a place back at this club, they are legends of the club, and they’ll no doubt go on to the next chapter of their lives and I’m sure part of it is exciting.

“And for us as a club, there is a lot of change coming. You just have to move on because tomorrow is another day in football.

“It was a club decision in conjunction with the players as well. Discussions were going on and we felt it was the right decision and we move forward. Change is difficult, it’s uncomfortable, people are sometimes resistant to change but change is also good, it’s a really good thing, a really positive thing moving forward.”

Stevenson and Hanlon are the last remaining members of Hibs’ revered 2016 Scottish Cup-winning side but Montgomery challenged others, such as Chris Cadden, to lead the team forward as they prepare to integrate another batch of new players this summer.

“The key now is that we have some boys who have been here for a while, like Chrissy Cadden for example, and they have to now carry on that mantle of being a Hibs player and understanding what the club’s about,” said Montgomery.

“You have to bring players in and tell them very much from the start what the club’s about and what they need to expect and we need players coming into this club who can cope with the pressure and expectation of playing for a club like Hibs.

“Look at Myziane Maolida, for example, he came in January and he’s now top scorer of the team and Emiliano Marcondes is another player who has really got himself close to the fans because of their effort.

“It’s my job to make sure every player coming in knows what the club’s about and possibly that’s not been the case before, hence the huge amount of players we have out on loan.

“Some are possibly for development reasons and some possibly because they’ve maybe not been able to handle the pressure of playing for a big club. We know we need to focus now on having a strong first-team squad, making sure we’ve got the strongest team possible on the park and on the bench.”

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