Jack Ross insists the decision to hand Hibernian veteran Lewis Stevenson a new contract has nothing to do with sentiment.
The long-time Easter Road servant, 33, has been rewarded with a fresh one-year deal stretching to the summer of 2022 just days after chalking up his 500th club appearance.
Only four players have made more appearances for the Edinburgh club across its 145-year history – Willie Ormond (506), Pat Stanton (617), Arthur Duncan (626) and Gordon Smith (636).
But the League Cup and Scottish Cup-winning defender has found game time harder to come by this season having fallen behind youngster Josh Doig in Ross’ pecking order.
However, the Hibs boss insists Stevenson remains an important member of his squad.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Kilmarnock, Ross said: “I think Lewis wanted to know this – it’s not for sentiment.
“It’s for football. He’s still contributing on the pitch and around the training ground on a daily basis.
“His attitude to work remains as diligent as it’s always been and I think he’s enjoying his football at the moment.
“Having that competition to play at left-back against a young player who has come through our youth system and encouraging him is something I think Lewis is enjoying. He’s competing against Josh to play but also mentoring him with his development as well.
“So the decision to offer him a new contract was based on footballing reasons and we’re delighted that he chose to accept it on the back of what has been an incredible week for him in achieving that milestone.”
Hibs are expected to tie up a deal for former Motherwell winger Chris Cadden ahead of the Killie clash.
Midfielder Jackson Irvine could face Alex Dyer’s team having also checked in this week and Ross hinted there could be further new faces arriving this month.
“Potentially,” he said. “It might be depending on movement the other way. I can’t say for certain but I’d expect some shuffling of the squad between now and the end of the month.”