Jack Ross is optimistic that striker Kevin Nisbet will sign a new contract and remain with Hibernian beyond the close of the transfer window next week.
The 24-year-old Scotland international was the subject of a bid from Birmingham in January and has been linked with a move to Celtic this month.
However, Hibs – who are missing Welsh attacker Christian Doidge through injury – currently have a shortage of forwards, meaning Ross is currently heavily reliant on last term’s top scorer.
Ross said: “I need Kevin to be here beyond the transfer window.
“I’m always loathe to say anything definitive about any player because things can change very quickly in football but there’s been no sign of him leaving so far and in terms of his importance to me for the direction the team’s going, he’s huge, so I’m very hopeful of keeping him.”
Nisbet is currently contracted to Hibs for another three years and the club are working towards offering him a new deal on improved terms.
Ross said: “Because of speculation about his future last week, people believe we’ve just suddenly started speaking about a new contract but it’s something we’ve been speaking about for a number of weeks.
“The great thing was that Kevin and his representatives were positive about those discussions and it’s continued in that vein. It’s not concluded as yet. From a football point of view I’ve always argued a very strong case (to the board) about how important he is for me on the pitch.
“The club have listened to that and have been very supportive. There’s nothing definitive but everything to date has been heading in the right direction. I speak about how big an asset he is to me but I think we’ve also provided a very good platform for him that’s helped produce his best football and culminated in him playing in a major tournament.
“I think all that’s been in our favour.”
Ross is also hopeful that 19-year-old left-back Josh Doig will remain at Hibs despite interest from Burnley and Watford earlier this month.
He said: “The people who were phoning me a lot aren’t phoning me a lot now, so read between the lines on that. Those people might start phoning me again but for the moment I think we took back control of the situation and it’s been good for Josh and ourselves.
“I don’t know what might happen over the next few days but at the moment it’s been good for him because he’s looked much more like himself with having that bit of clarity over the past couple of weeks.”
Ross is keen to add at least two new players before Tuesday’s deadline in order to enhance the squad and allow some fringe men, such as young striker Jamie Gullan, to go elsewhere and get game time.
He said: “I’d be really surprised and disappointed if we didn’t add before the window closes. I’m hopeful we’ll have a couple of additions and that will enable us to move some on who haven’t been able to play regularly. We need to add to give us a squad with the quality and depth that can meet the ambitions of where we want to be.”
Ross, whose side host Livingston on Saturday, is not expecting to be able to strike a deal to bring USA striker Chris Mueller in before his scheduled January arrival from Orlando City.
He said: “Unless something dramatic changes, he will stay with Orlando until his contract finishes and then join us in January. We’ve pushed really hard to try and get him in now but his club has the right to keep him. It could change but I’m planning to be without him until the turn of the year.”