Thursday 22 August 2019

Hibernian boss Neil Lennon: Northern Irish managers have hunger to achieve

Neil Lennon, pictured left, with Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers
Neil Lennon, pictured left, with Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers

Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon feels a "hunger" to succeed characterises the Northern Irish managerial contingent in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Lennon faces former Northern Ireland team-mate Tommy Wright when St Johnstone visit Easter Road on Saturday, and another two managers from across the water - Celtic's Brendan Rodgers and Stephen Robinson of Motherwell - will go head to head in the Betfred Cup final the following weekend.

Another Northern Irishman, Michael O'Neill, could soon be arriving in Scotland after the Scottish Football Association approached its counterpart in Belfast for permission to speak to its national team boss.

Former Celtic manager Lennon said: "We are taking over. I think there's a hunger and a level of, believe it or not, intelligence: football intelligence and man-management.

"I think our backgrounds are very, very similar. There's a real hunger there for us all to achieve. And the courses they are running in Belfast are excellent. You learn a lot and you pick things up as you go along.

"But Michael is at the forefront of that with what he has achieved with the national team."

Hibs won four matches in a row before the international break but Lennon was glad of the respite. Dylan McGeouch and David Gray both went off injured during the victory over Dundee on November 4 and Steven Whittaker, Danny Swanson, Darren McGregor and Liam Fontaine were already missing, while the likes of Scotland midfielder John McGinn were carrying knocks.

Lennon said: "Dylan's back training so he should be fit for the weekend. David Gray is back in training so he should be OK.

"But Swanson, Whittaker and McGregor maybe not. McGregor is back in training but he's had no games for a while so he will need to keep rehabilitating in the right way.

"Steven has got a pelvic problem so he is a doubt for the weekend.

"But the break has been beneficial for us. We were down to the bare bones. We've had boys away playing for their country as well and they have come back fine.

"We have been playing really, really well and hopefully we can pick up where we left off."

PA Media

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