{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"hibs","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-to-host-hibs-in-scottish-cup-fourth-round-1-4618604","id":"1.4618604","articleHeadline": "Hearts to host Hibs in Scottish Cup fourth round","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1511198400000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts and Hibs have been drawn to meet at Tynecastle in the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4618603.1511198414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts and Hibs will meet again in the Scottish Cup"} ,"articleBody": "

The tie, due to be played on the weekend of January 20-21, will be the third year in succession the Capital rivals have met in the competition with Hibs having prevailed in fifth-round replays in the last two seasons.

There are another two all-Premiership ties, with Motherwell hosting Hamilton in a Lanarkshire derby and Ross County travelling to Kilmarnock.

Highland League outfit Fraserburgh have been rewarded for beating Spartans on Saturday with a dream home clash with Rangers.

Full draw: Dunfermline v Morton; Ayr v Arbroath; Albion Rovers v St Johnstone; Motherwell v Hamilton; Hearts v Hibs; Livingston v Falkirk; Dundee v Inverness; Formartine United v Cove Rangers; Montrose or Queen of the South v Partick Thistle; Celtic v Brechin; Peterhead v Dumbarton; East Fife v Brora Rangers; Alloa v Dundee United; Fraserburgh v Rangers; Aberdeen v St Mirren; Kilmarnock v Ross County.

(Ties to be played weekend of January 20-21)

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4618603.1511198414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4618603.1511198414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts and Hibs will meet again in the Scottish Cup","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts and Hibs will meet again in the Scottish Cup","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4618603.1511198414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-midfielder-john-mcginn-hit-with-suspension-1-4618489","id":"1.4618489","articleHeadline": "Hibs midfielder John McGinn hit with suspension","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1511191315000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs were dealt a blow today when they learned midfield ace John McGinn has been hit with a one-match suspension.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4618488.1511191329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John McGinn was booked during Hibs' defeat by St Johnstone on Saturday"} ,"articleBody": "

The 23-year-old Scotland star picked up his sixth booking of the season – and his third in as many games – for a barge on St Johnstone’s Murray Davidson as the Easter Road outfit were defeated 2-1 at the weekend.

Now he’ll serve an automatic ban which means he’ll sit out Hibs’ visit to Partick Thistle a week on Saturday.

Click here for the latest Hibs results, fixtures and stats>>>

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID HARDIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4618488.1511191329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4618488.1511191329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John McGinn was booked during Hibs' defeat by St Johnstone on Saturday","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John McGinn was booked during Hibs' defeat by St Johnstone on Saturday","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4618488.1511191329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/oli-shaw-rescues-point-for-hibs-under-20s-at-dundee-united-1-4618808","id":"1.4618808","articleHeadline": "Oli Shaw rescues point for Hibs Under-20s at Dundee United","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1511211157000 ,"articleLead": "

Oli Shaw salvaged a point for Hibs Under-20s in the SPFL Development League as they drew 2-2 away at Dundee United.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4618807.1511211172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Oli Shaw"} ,"articleBody": "

The young Hibees took the lead on nine minutes when centre-half Ryan Porteous rose highest to nod home Fraser Murray’s corner.

United, however, levelled on 41 minutes when Matty Smith blasted the ball past Hibs keeper Kevin Dabrowski.

The hosts edged ahead right after half-time when Dom McMeekin netted, but Shaw responded on 65 minutes when he beat Josh Donaldson from a tight angle.

Dabrowski made a fine save from Archie Thomas late on to hold on to a draw.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4618807.1511211172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4618807.1511211172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Oli Shaw","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Oli Shaw","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4618807.1511211172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/michael-weir-hibs-defeat-was-just-a-bad-day-at-office-1-4617638","id":"1.4617638","articleHeadline": "Michael Weir: Hibs’ defeat was just a bad day at office","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1511159443000 ,"articleLead": "

Saturday was merely a bad day at the office for Hibs on the back of a good run.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4617637.1511109016!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs dejected players look on after the defeat by St Johnstone. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

I didn’t expect us to lose given the form both teams were in before the match, but St Johnstone are still a very experienced side, and, outwith Celtic, all the teams in the Premiership are realistically capable of beating each other on any given day.

The first half was a struggle for both teams, with no real fluency, and then, in the second half, Saints sat in and tried to hit us on the break. We just weren’t able to impose ourselves on the game, although we did improve a bit after they got their first goal.

Once they got in front, it was always going to be difficult for us because they’re a well organised side and they were clearly desperate for the points.

It’s a sign of how well we are doing that other Premiership teams are coming to try and stifle us, and we need to adapt to that in terms of being a wee bit more creative when we get ourselves into promising positions.

I’m not overly worried about anything I saw on Saturday because it’s come on the back of a four-game winning run. I think it was a case of St Johnstone deserving credit rather than Hibs deserving major criticism. We’ve had one bad result in five games in a competitive league, so I’m certainly not of a mind to be too hard on the team or the manager.

The main bonus is that Aberdeen and Rangers also lost. There will always be ups and downs over the course of a league campaign, and we’ve had our fair share of positive days this season. We’re still well capable of getting ourselves on another winning run, and hopefully that starts away to Hamilton on Saturday.

They’ve had a great result at Ibrox on Saturday and they beat us earlier this season but we’re entitled to fancy our chances of going through there and winning if we are able to play at the level we did in our previous four games.

We’ve had an unexpected setback at the weekend – now it’s just a case of getting back on the horse as quickly as possible and trying to get back to showing the level of consistency that served us so well before the international break.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4617637.1511109016!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4617637.1511109016!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs dejected players look on after the defeat by St Johnstone. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs dejected players look on after the defeat by St Johnstone. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4617637.1511109016!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/final-season-in-championship-results-in-300k-loss-for-hibs-1-4617582","id":"1.4617582","articleHeadline": "Final season in Championship results in £300k loss for Hibs","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1511159410000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs today revealed the cost of their final season in the Championship, the Easter Road club racking up a loss of almost £300,000 in the last financial year.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4617581.1511184812!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs chairman Rod Petrie holds aloft the Championship trophy. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

However, while admitting the figure falls “some way short” of their target to at least break even, chairman Rod Petrie insists the results, which were dropping through shareholders’ letterboxes this morning, were “satisfactory”.

Having taken the decision to again maintain the structure and staffing of the club as a Premiership outfit operating in the Championship, Petrie maintained it was impossible for Hibs to break even in the second tier of Scottish football.

The previous accounts showed that Hibs had, in fact, made a modest profit of £200,000 following two years of losses, largely down to the Capital club winning the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years following an earlier visit to Hampden for the final of the League Cup.

Petrie contended that having finally secured promotion to the top flight, winning the Championship by 11 points, last season could be viewed with satisfaction both from a sporting and financial point of view.

In his letter to shareholders, Petrie points out that turnover rose to £7.7 million, the highest level since 2012-13 when it reached £8m and, importantly, cash balances as of June 30 stood at £3.5m, an increase of £1m over the year.

In large measure, he says, that is down to the level of season ticket renewals prior to the year end, sales having now reached 13,000, eclipsing the previous record and meaning that all but 3000 of the 16,000 seats available for home supporters at Easter Road for each game are already sold.

“Season 2016-17 will be remembered as a promotion winning season,” writes Petrie. “A return to the top flight of Scottish football had been the single objective for the season. Looking back, a winning margin of 11 points looks comfortable.

“It did not feel that way at times. But once we hit the top of the table for a third time after the turn of the year we held that position to the end. It was a great effort which brought everyone together to achieve success

“Sporting success on the pitch, backed by attendances at home matches, leads to satisfactory financial results. We have said before that your board took the decision to maintain the structure and staffing of the club as a Premiership outfit in the Championship.

“This includes continuing to invest in the players of the future through the Hibernian Academy. We said too that, having made that decision, it was impossible to break even in the Championship without major sporting success.

“Six trips to Hampden for major cup semi-finals and finals in three years and a Europa League tie all helped. As did the Scottish Cup win on May 21, 2016.

“Record attendances at Easter Road allied with another Scottish Cup semi-final tie and player trading at the end of the season resulted in a loss for the financial year of £277,000, some way short of our target which is to at least break even.”

Revealing shareholders now have a 34 per cent stake in the club, including 11 per cent held by Hibernian Supporters Ltd, Petrie admitted there was probably more transfer activity this summer than many had anticipated, the departure of top scorer Jason Cummings to Nottingham Forest balanced, he claimed, by “the welcome return of some familiar faces.”

But, he added: “It was the deals that were not done - by rejecting a number of offers for players - which gives us hope that season 2017-18 can build on the success of last season.

“The board has done all that it can to match the efforts of supporters and deliver a competitive budget for this season. The skills of our recruitment and player identification department have been harnessed to identify talent, both externally and from within.

“In conjunction with the head coach a talented squad of players has been assembled. The early signs are encouraging with another trip to Hampden already this season.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID HARDIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4617581.1511184812!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4617581.1511184812!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs chairman Rod Petrie holds aloft the Championship trophy. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs chairman Rod Petrie holds aloft the Championship trophy. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4617581.1511184812!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-post-match-we-should-ve-just-settled-for-a-point-1-4617594","id":"1.4617594","articleHeadline": "Hibs post-match: ‘We should’ve just settled for a point’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1511159403000 ,"articleLead": "

Brandon Barker admitted Hibs’ burning desire to win cost them a vital point against St Johnstone.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4617590.1511109145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ryan Porteous (No.36) and Martin Boyle (No.17) can only watch on in horror as St Johnstone striker Steven MacLean fires the ball beyond Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano to claim a stoppage-time winner for the Saints at Easter Road. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Level thanks to Anthony Stokes’ last-minute penalty, the Easter Road side suffered their first defeat in five matches as Saints’ Steven MacLean snatched a winner three minutes into added-on time.

However, the on-loan Manchester City kid – who came off in the second half – believes his team-mates should have settled for a draw rather than going all-out for a winner themselves, Stokes having cancelled out Murray Davidson’s opener for the Perth outfit.

“They were shouting that, but the mentality the boys have is that when we scored you saw everyone running to try and get the ball and to go for the win,” he said.

“That’s a great mentality to have, but when there’s two minutes left everyone knows we should have taken the draw, got the point on the board and be ready to go again next week.

“It was a horrible way to lose the game. We should have seen it out and got a point, but we went for the win. Maybe that was the wrong decision ... we should have sat off and taken the draw.”

As it turned out, the defeat – the third Hibs have endured at home in the Premiership this season – did Neil Lennon’s side no real harm, second-placed Aberdeen losing at Pittodrie to Motherwell while Rangers, a point behind the Capital club, slumped to a surprise defeat by Hamilton at Ibrox.

Barker, though, acknowledged the flip side of those results was that he and his team-mates had passed up a chance in facing a side which had taken just a single point from their previous six league games - and without scoring a goal - to leapfrog the Dons and also open up a handy four-point cushion on Rangers.

The 21-year-old said: “We were lucky as the other scores helped us out. But it was a missed opportunity. We want to be as high as possible and we had a big chance to go second.

“The other teams lost, it was our chance in a game we dominated and probably should have won it.”

In saying that, Barker admitted Lennon’s players rarely looked as if they could get out of second gear, this performance a stark contrast to the vibrant, energetic displays prior to the international break in which they had clocked up four wins on the bounce.

In many ways this game resembled those of the Championship in which Hibs inevitably faced sides reluctant to commit too much to attack, content to sit in and hope to hit on the break. It was a tactic which worked for a number of them and, given Saints’ recent history, few would begrudge McDiarmid Park boss Tommy Wright trying to ensure that his players, at least, didn’t lose again.

As such, Hibs saw plenty of the ball but little of Saints goalkeeper Zander Clark, a clutch of long-range shots as much as Lennon’s side could muster while they were happy to see their own No.1 Ofir Marciano tip a netbound shot from former Easter Road captain Liam Craig onto the bar.

The longer the game went, though, the more you could sense the visitors believing their might be something more than a point for them, although it did take the outstretched boot of Clark to prevent Simon Murray – like his fellow striker Stokes, quiet throughout – redirecting Efe Ambrose’ effort into the bottom corner.

Incredibly, 620 minutes had elapsed since Davidson had claimed a late winner over Hamilton, that coming at the end of September and to add a bit of symmetry, it was the same player to break that drought, nodding home as substitute Graham Cummins turned Craig’s cross back into the 
danger area.

Stokes’ penalty, awarded when Martin Boyle’s shot struck the arm of Joe Shaugnessy, soothed the nerves of the home fans somewhat, only for them to be driven to the depths of despair by what Lennon insisted was the highly avoidable loss of that second goal, the Hibs boss pointing to a couple of poor decisions and a couple of players slipping at the vital moment.

Given the way in which the match was lost, few would have been surprised, least of all the players as they headed for the dressing room no doubt with a sense of trepidation as to what might be awaiting them, if Lennon had given them both barrels as he has in the past.

However, they were spared the “hair-dryer treatment”, as Barker revealed. He said: “Obviously any team that loses like that, it’s a horrible feeling. But he knows we know. It’s a game we should win at home, but they came and made it difficult for us.

“It’s always difficult to play against them, but it did feel a bit flat. We weren’t moving the ball as quick as we’re used to, but hopefully next week we’ll be sharp again and put it right.”

Lennon had expressed a concern in the days before this match that the two-week lull in action might rob his players of the head of steam they’d been building but at the same time welcomed it as a chance to allow a number of them to recover from the injuries which had reduced his squad to just 15 fit enough to pull on a jersey.

But having seen his worry realised, he insisted he wasn’t going to be over-critical of his players, saying: “There was a flatness about us and I can understand it. It’s been a fragmented couple of weeks with players being away and others being out injured, some needing a rest.

“We were okay, we weren’t brilliant and you have to respect the opposition. Maybe Rangers and Aberdeen were in the same boat as us. It can be difficult to really find your rhythm in the first game after an international break.

“I don’t think we deserved to lose it, but I don’t think we deserved to win either. I was pleased with the character we showed after we conceded, but to lose the second goal in the manner we did was really disappointing.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID HARDIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4617590.1511109145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4617590.1511109145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ryan Porteous (No.36) and Martin Boyle (No.17) can only watch on in horror as St Johnstone striker Steven MacLean fires the ball beyond Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano to claim a stoppage-time winner for the Saints at Easter Road. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ryan Porteous (No.36) and Martin Boyle (No.17) can only watch on in horror as St Johnstone striker Steven MacLean fires the ball beyond Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano to claim a stoppage-time winner for the Saints at Easter Road. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4617590.1511109145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4617591.1511109148!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4617591.1511109148!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Murray Davidson opens the scoring for St Johnstone. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Murray Davidson opens the scoring for St Johnstone. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4617591.1511109148!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4617592.1511109151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4617592.1511109151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs thought they had rescued a point with Anthony Stokes' penalty. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs thought they had rescued a point with Anthony Stokes' penalty. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4617592.1511109151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4617593.1511109156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4617593.1511109156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brandon Barker and Liam Craig tussle for possession. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brandon Barker and Liam Craig tussle for possession. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4617593.1511109156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-1-2-st-johnstone-hibs-rescue-point-then-lose-it-late-on-1-4616985","id":"1.4616985","articleHeadline": "Hibs 1-2 St Johnstone: Hibs rescue point then lose it late on","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1511024950000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs stumbled to defeat as St Johnstone ended their goal drought in dramatic fashion. Murray Davidson had scored Saints’ first in 620 minutes of action but a last minute penalty from Anthony Stokes appeared to have salvaged a point for the home side.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616982.1511024942!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs striker Simon Murray lets fly with an early effort against St Johnstone at Easter Road"} ,"articleBody": "

In a stunning finale, however, Steven MacLean turned home the winner three minutes into added on time after Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano had pulled off a superb stop from Graham Cummins.

Simon Murray and John McGinn had early efforts go astray as Hibs forced a succession of corners. But it was a game which in the opening 30 minutes were marred by a string of wayward passes from both sides as they struggled to bring any fluency to bear.

But Anthony Stokes should, at least, have worked Saints goalkeeper Zander Clark when Martin Boyle found him at the edge of the penalty area but his shot, too, was off target.

Saints had gone into this match without a goal in 546 minutes of Premiership action and that drought continued thanks to a terrific instinctive save from Ofir Marciano, the Hibs goalkeeper touching former Easter Road midfielder Liam Craig's netbound shot from Michael O'Halloran's cutback onto his cross bar.

A couple of minutes later his opposite number Zander Clark was called into action, beating away Boyle's shot although Hibs continued too show any of the free-flowing football which had seen them win their four previous matches prior to the international break.

Other than Craig's shot Saints had offered little in attack but it took a header from McGinn, deep inside his own six yard box, to turn away Steven Anderson's powerful drive which might well have left Marciano struggling seven minutes into the second half.

At the other end Brandon Barker used his searing pace to get to the bye-line to deliver a dangerous cross which was superbly dealt with at the near post by the intervention of Joe Shaughnessy which left his own goalkeeper needing a brief period of treatment.

Stokes was adamant he should have been awarded a penalty as he appeared to be held back by Anderson before Clark stuck out a boot to divert the striker's attempt to deflect an Efe Ambrose shot beyond him.

However, Marciano again had to look sharp, pushing over a rising, angled shot from O'Halloran after he'd been played in by first half substitute Richie Forster. And Saints finally ended their quest for a goal in the 74th minute, Craig flighting a cross beyond the back post for Cummins to nod across to leave Davidson with a point-blank header for the opener.

There was a last minute reprieve, however, for Hibs as Boyle's shot caught the arm of Shaughnessy, referee Craig Thomson immediately pointing to the spot from which Stokes levelled the scoreline.

However, even that wasn't enough to salvage a point for Hibs as MacLean pounced with that late, late winner.

Hibs: Marciano, Gray (Porteous 64), Ambrose, Hanlon, Stevenson, Boyle, Bartley (Matulevicius 81), McGinn, Barker (McGeouch 64); S Murray, Stokes.

Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Slivka, Shaw, F Murray.

St Johnstone: Clark, Comrie (Foster 17), Shaughnessy, Anderson, Tanser, O'Halloran, Alston (Cummins 63), Davidson, Paton Craig, S MacLean.

Substitutes not used: Mannus, Johnstone, K McClean, Scougall, Gordon.

Referee: Craig Thomson

" ,"byline": {"email": "david.hardie@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "David Hardie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4616982.1511024942!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616982.1511024942!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs striker Simon Murray lets fly with an early effort against St Johnstone at Easter Road","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs striker Simon Murray lets fly with an early effort against St Johnstone at Easter Road","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4616982.1511024942!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/lennon-hopes-hibs-can-kick-on-after-break-1-4616639","id":"1.4616639","articleHeadline": "Lennon hopes Hibs can kick on after break","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510986612000 ,"articleLead": "

Neil Lennon hopes Hibs can carry on from where they left off before the international break by beating St Johnstone today to win five top-flight matches on the bounce for the first time in almost six years.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616638.1510953027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neil Lennon. Picture: Bruce White/SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Lennon believes the two-weeks of inactivity due to the international break came at exactly the right time with injuries having left him with just 15 fit players following the defeat of Dundee – but he worries the momentum which has taken the Capital outfit to third place in the Premiership may have been broken.

Lennon will have club skipper David Gray, Dylan McGeouch and Brandon Barker – all hurt before half-time against Dundee – available for the visit of Saints, while a late decision will be made on Steven Whittaker who missed the past two games with a back injury.

“In terms of injuries the break came at the right time because the squad was decimated,” said Lennon who has defenders Darren McGregor and Liam Fontaine out on a long-term basis, “But in terms of form and the way we were playing that’s a different matter,

“I don’t know how this break will have affected the momentum. In terms of form, we didn’t want the break to come. We’ve been in very good form and we want to maintain that, particularly going into December where it’s a very heavy month for us.”

While Hibs are riding the crest of a wave at the moment, Tommy Wright’s St Johnstone have gone 546 minutes without a goal since Murray Davidson scored a late winner against Hamilton at the end of September, but Lennon feels the break may also have been timely for the McDiarmid Park side who have Davidson and Michael O’Halloran fit again. Citing how his own team’s results suddenly turned round, he said: “They weren’t on a great run but maybe the little break away from the spotlight will have done them good. They’re a dangerous team and have been very consistent over the last three or four seasons.

“Tommy has been in this position before where they have maybe not won for five or six games and then, all of a sudden, they get a run of three or four wins in a row. St Johnstone are very capable of doing that, I’m very wary of them.”

Having said that, Lennon couldn’t be happier with his players’ performances in recent weeks. “We’d been playing well and not getting the results. Then, bang, we go four in a row and find ourselves in third place. I’m not getting carried away with that but it’s not just the results I’ve been pleased with, the all-round performance and football have been very pleasing.”

Meanwhile, Hibs have announced their SFA Youth Cup tie against Inverness Caley will take place at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium on Sunday, November 26, at 1pm.

Before then the Easter Road youngsters will bid to retain their place at the top of the SPFL Development League when they face Dundee United at Montrose’s Links Park on Monday, kick-off 6pm.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4616638.1510953027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616638.1510953027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Neil Lennon. Picture: Bruce White/SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neil Lennon. Picture: Bruce White/SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4616638.1510953027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibee-history-steelmen-are-knocked-for-six-1-4616341","id":"1.4616341","articleHeadline": "Hibee History: Steelmen are knocked for six","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510986600000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibernian turned in a fantastic first half display to demolish sorry Motherwell at Fir Park.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616340.1510930226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ivan Sproule rushes to join in with the celebrations of Chris Killen, Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson"} ,"articleBody": "

Scott Brown stabbed in the opener before setting up Chris Killen to slot beyond home goalkeeper Colin Meldrum.

Ivan Sproule rammed in a shot and the speedy winger drew the exposed Meldrum before clipping home his second goal.

After the interval, Hibs went further ahead through a Rob Jones header and Dean Shiels added a last minute goal after Well’s Steven McGarry netted. Thomson delighted with Motherwell win

The game was as thoroughly one-sided as the scoreline suggests, with Hibs hitting the woodwork twice and creating several other chances to add to their tally.

Hibs announced their attacking intent within minutes when Sproule raced into the penalty box only to be denied by Meldrum’s block, before slamming the rebound wide of the target.

Meldrum did well to block a point-blank strike from Killen but he could not prevent Hibs taking the lead after 10 minutes.

The keeper failed to smother a mis-hit effort from Steven Fletcher, sparking a scramble and Sproule emerged with the ball to set up Brown, who gratefully fired in the opener.

Only the woodwork prevented Jones from adding to Hibs’ lead moments later but the Easter Road side did not have to wait long for another goal.

Killen latched onto a clever reverse pass from Brown, before racing into the box and coolly shooting beyond Meldrum.

David Murphy then tried to pick out Killen for a header in front of goal but the ball fell to the feet of Sproule, who buried his shot.

There was further misery ahead for the home side when Sproule helped himself to his second goal.

Guillaume Beuzelin released the winger and he expertly drew Meldrum from his line before placing the ball in the back of the net with 39 minutes on the clock.

Hibs were still hungry for goals and Killen’s diving header fell just wide of the upright soon after the restart.

Visiting goalkeeper Zbigniew Malkowski had barely been troubled but he was called into action to stop a powerful strike from McGarry.

McGarry tried his luck again with another long-ranger but the Hibs keeper was up to the task.

Hibs had the net bulging again after 73 minutes when a corner from Kevin Thomson was delivered into a packed goalmouth and Jones rose highest to nod past Meldrum.

Fletcher hit the post before McGarry latched on to a Clarkson pass to pull a goal back with eight minutes to go.

But the scoring was not over and substitute Shiels grabbed goal number six for Hibs in injury time, shooting home from close range after good work from Brown.

Motherwell: Meldrum, Quinn, Kinniburgh, Reynolds, Paterson, McGarry, Kerr, Lasley, Foran (Fitzpatrick 76), McDonald (McBride 74), Clarkson. Subs Not Used: Graeme Smith, Fagan, Robert Donnelly, Connolly, Coakley.

Hibs: Malkowski, Whittaker, Jones, Martis, Murphy, Sproule (Shiels 85), Thomson, Beuzelin, Scott Brown, Killen (Benjelloun 62), Fletcher (McCluskey 86). Subs Not Used: McNeil, Shields, Hogg, Glass.

Referee: I Brines

Att: 6,190

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Motherwell 1,Hibs 6 (SPL). November 18, 2006"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4616340.1510930226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616340.1510930226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ivan Sproule rushes to join in with the celebrations of Chris Killen, Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ivan Sproule rushes to join in with the celebrations of Chris Killen, Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4616340.1510930226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibees-must-the-take-emotion-out-of-the-league-1-4616387","id":"1.4616387","articleHeadline": "Hibees must the take emotion out of the league","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510986600000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs Ladies boss Kevin Milne says his players need to manage games better if they are to break Glasgow City’s stranglehold on Scottish women’s football.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616386.1510932025!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kevin Milne at East Mains"} ,"articleBody": "

City were crowned SWPL 1 league champions for the 11th consecutive season with a 3-0 victory over Hibs last Sunday, the Hibees forced to play second fiddle to Scott Booth’s side for the third year in a row.

Although the Capital club have fared better than their rivals in recent cup competitions, Hibs defeating City in both last season’s Scottish and League Cup finals, it’s the bread and butter of the league where they continue to fall short.

Ahead of their final SWPL 1 match of the season against city rivals Spartans Women at Ainslie Park tomorrow, Milne said: “Glasgow City manage games better and have the experience of winning leagues, that’s their 11th in a row. They’ve also got high quality international players in their team but next season our girls will have another full season under their belts and they’ll take that emotion of losing the league least weekend and try to put it right next year.”

The two sides go head-to-head for the final time this season in next Sunday’s SSE Scottish Cup final at Livingston’s Tony Macaroni Arena. Hibs triumphed 6-5 on penalties in last year’s final after a 1-1 draw.

Victory for Spartans this weekend could givethe Ainslie Park side a fourth-place finish depending on the outcome of Stirling University’s clash with Celtic.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4616386.1510932025!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616386.1510932025!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kevin Milne at East Mains","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kevin Milne at East Mains","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4616386.1510932025!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/we-thought-neil-lennon-would-cut-us-some-slack-no-chance-1-4616436","id":"1.4616436","articleHeadline": "We thought Neil Lennon would cut us some slack – no chance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510986600000 ,"articleLead": "

Lewis Stevenson has revealed boss Neil Lennon’s insistence that winning is everything hasn’t slackened with Hibs’ return to the Premiership.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616435.1510953219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lewis Stevenson promotes the new half season tickets which are now on sale"} ,"articleBody": "

Having accepted the demands made by Lennon in his first season in charge at Easter Road as the Capital club finally escaped the clutches of the Championship, Stevenson admitted he though he might cut his players a bit of slack as the top flight’s “new boys”.

But Lennon has continued to be as hard a taskmaster, a fact, insisted Stevenson, which is reflected in Hibs sitting third in the table and going into today’s home match against 
St Johnstone seeking a fifth successive victory.

And the little left-back is convinced the driving force that is Lennon is the reason why he and his team-mates continued to win even although they were out on their feet as they headed towards the latest international break.

Lennon disclosed that a punishing run of five matches in a fortnight, including a Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic and the first Edinburgh derby of the season, had taken such a toll he’d been left with only 15 fit players at his disposal.

Now, though, Stevenson believes they have made the most of the past fortnight, returning to action prepared for what is again going to be a hectic schedule with no fewer than seven games pencilled in for December.

The 29-year-old said: “The break came at a good time. Sometimes when you are winning you want to keep that momentum going. But the whole squad was struggling, everyone had a niggle here and there.

“To go into those four league games in two weeks and come away with 12 points, everyone was delighted. Now we are all refreshed and I think a few boys will be ready to come back in as well.”

Stevenson believes Lennon’s influence was no more evident than during Hibs last match against Dundee a half-time pep talk helping lift them to a 2-1 win.

He said: “It’s not just physical sometimes, it’s mental as well. It helps when you are winning, you get that adrenaline that keeps you going.

“It was strange against Dundee, it looked like we had more energy in the second half than we did in the first. That might have been because the manager had a few stern words at half-time. He knew we had been giving our all but sometimes you need that to get you over the line. And we had that carrot dangling where if we got a result we’d get a few days off.”

Lennon famously branded his players a “boy band” on the day he took over from Alan Stubbs, an accusation Stevenson admitted hurt but one which, he revealed, his gaffer still employs, albeit on an infrequent basis.

He said: “In the past we might have drawn a game and thought it was a decent result - but he’s not been happy. It hasn’t been good enough for him which I think is good. We know we are going into every game to try and win, even if it is Celtic or whoever. It takes a bit of getting used to. It was different last season because we were expected to win every game in the Championship. I thought he might change when we went up - but he hasn’t let up at all.

“We have this team spirit and belief, it’s not just that we want to win, we need to win. Sometimes it’s nice to win a tight game where you don’t play well. People always used to say Hibs were a soft touch but I didn’t really see that. But the more we have become not a soft touch - if that makes sense - the more I do.

“The manager said that to us when he came in and he still uses it from time to time and it hits us hard. We don’t want to be remembered as that. It hasn’t been used for a while, hopefully it stays that way.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4616435.1510953219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616435.1510953219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lewis Stevenson promotes the new half season tickets which are now on sale","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lewis Stevenson promotes the new half season tickets which are now on sale","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4616435.1510953219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-v-st-johnstone-match-preview-and-probable-line-ups-1-4616128","id":"1.4616128","articleHeadline": "Hibs v St Johnstone: Match preview and probable line-ups","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510920500000 ,"articleLead": "

Neil Lennon will go head-to-head with countryman Tommy Wright as the two Northern Irishmen’s teams do battle at Easter Road this weekend.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616127.1510920495!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Hibs players are put through their paces at East Mains ahead of the visit of St Johnstone. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

Hibs haven’t defeated St Johnstone in a league match at Easter Road since September 2011, when a goal from Ivan Sproule and a double from Garry O’Connor, including a hotly disputed penalty, handed the Hibees a 3-2 win, while Liam Craig and Cillian Sheridan were on target for the visitors.

Hibs are currently on a run of four wins, having defeated Hearts, Motherwell, Kilmarnock and Dundee and currently sit third in the Scottish Premiership, two points behind Aberdeen who have a game in hand.

Lennon is still without injured defensive duo Liam Fontaine and Darren McGregor, with Danny Swanson also set to miss out with a knee injury, but Anthony Stokes is available for selection after overcoming an ankle injury, and was a first half replacement for Dylan McGeouch in the 2-1 win over Dundee last time round.

McGregor has returned to training but is still some way off match fitness.

Away from the speculation over Tommy Wright being a possible candidate to succeed Michael O’Neill as Northern Ireland boss if the former Hibs winger leaves his position, St Johnstone will be desperate for a performance at Easter Road.

The Perthshire outfit haven’t won a match since 23 September - which was also the last time they found the net - when they defeated 10-man Hamilton 2-1 at McDiarmid Park.

David Wotherspoon and Liam Craig will return to familiar surroundings, the pair having spent a combined eight years at Easter Road between 2007 and 2015.

Craig is now in his second spell with the McDiarmid Park outfit while local boy Wotherspoon has been turning out for the Saints since joining from Hibs in 2013.

Wright has been boosted by the return of Michael O’Halloran and Murray Davidson, while Stefan Scougall and Chris Millar are back in training and will be assessed ahead of the game.

Brian Easton remains sidelined with a knee injury.

Last five meetings: St Johnstone 1-1 Hibs; Hibs 2-1 St Johnstone; St Johnstone 2-0 Hibs; Hibs 0-0 St Johnstone; St Johnstone 1-2 Hibs

Likely Hibs team (4-2-3-1): Marciano; Gray, Ambrose, Hanlon, Stevenson; Bartley; Barker, McGinn, McGeouch, Boyle; S Murray. Subs from: Laidlaw, Porteous, Slivka, Matulevicius, Stokes, F Murray, Shaw.

Likely St Johnstone team (4-4-2): Clark; Comrie, Anderson, Shaughnessy, Tanser; Wotherspoon, Davidson, Paton, Craig; O’Halloran, MacLean. Subs from: Mannus, Foster, Gordon, Alston, Scougall, Millar, Cummings, Johnstone, McClean.

Referee: Craig Thomson

Kick-off: 3pm

Odds: Hibs 31/50 Draw 5/1 St Johnstone 5/1 (Odds correct at the time of writing)

For more statistics, visit our dedicated Hibs page

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PATRICK MCPARTLIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4616127.1510920495!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616127.1510920495!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Hibs players are put through their paces at East Mains ahead of the visit of St Johnstone. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Hibs players are put through their paces at East Mains ahead of the visit of St Johnstone. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4616127.1510920495!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/neil-lennon-i-have-no-interest-in-the-northern-ireland-job-1-4615681","id":"1.4615681","articleHeadline": "Neil Lennon: I have no interest in the Northern Ireland job","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510909845000 ,"articleLead": "

Neil Lennon has insisted he has no interest in becoming manager of Northern Ireland should current boss Michael O’Neill decide to quit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4615680.1510909840!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs head coach Neil Lennon is very content with his role at Hibs"} ,"articleBody": "

Former Hibs midfielder O’Neill is the front-runner to take charge of Scotland following the departure of Gordon Strachan, the SFA having made a formal approach for the 48-year-old who is also high on the wanted list by the United States and English Championship outfit Sunderland.

But while adamant his countryman will make his own decision – and he admitted he’d love to see a manager who “has performed miracles” stay with Northern Ireland – the Easter Road boss insists he won’t be putting his name forward should O’Neill decide the time is right to seek a change of direction.

He said: “I enjoy what I do and I like the day-to-day thing, I’d miss that too much. I don’t think I’m ready for international management. I don’t like the feast or famine aspect to it either.

“You win a couple of games and you are the best thing since sliced bread, you lose a game and the whole world falls around you. It’s just disproportionate from a public 

“I like working with the players on a day-to-day basis as well. In international management you get the players once every couple of months and you have to get it right over a specific period of time. I think it’s a very difficult thing to do.”

He isn’t, however, surprised in the slightest that the SFA are now chasing the man who led Northern Ireland into the Euro 2016 finals and narrowly missed out on a place in next summer’s World Cup finals, suffering an aggregate 1-0 defeat by Switzerland in the play-offs thanks to what Lennon described as a “diabolical” penalty decision. Conceding that he felt overall the Swiss were the better team and deserved to go through, Lennon was nevertheless unstinting in his praise for Edinburgh-based O’Neill. He said: Whether he wants to do it or not only Michael can answer that.

“His stock is very high and from a Northern Ireland point of view, I want him to stay on. He may feel he has taken Northern Ireland as far as he can, or that there is more to come.

“It doesn’t surprise me that there is interest in him from elsewhere. Michael has performed miracles. To get to the last 16 or the Euros and then to make the play-offs in a group containing Germany and the Czech Republic was unheard of when I played.

“He does not have a big squad of players, there is not great strength in depth but the players have been magnificent for him as he has got the best out of them. He has them believing and there is great mentality about them.

“Tactically he is very strong, defensively they are well set-up and they became really hard to beat.”

Expressing a belief that at present Scotland are a “young, vibrant international team” with potential while Northern Ireland could be about to enter a transitory phase with a number of players now the wrong side of 30, Lennon said: “Michael is smart and he will make the right decision for him whether that will be moving on or staying.

“He’s quite savvy that way. It’s all about timing too, and if he feels the time is right to move on then that will be his decision.”

He did however, agree that Tommy Wright – boss of St Johnstone, Hibs opponents’ tomorrow and a former Northern Ireland goalkeeper – would be a prime candidate to succeed O’Neill.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4615680.1510909840!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4615680.1510909840!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs head coach Neil Lennon is very content with his role at Hibs","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs head coach Neil Lennon is very content with his role at Hibs","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4615680.1510909840!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1504877950570"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/young-hibs-striker-oli-shaw-keeps-grounded-despite-the-plaudits-1-4615671","id":"1.4615671","articleHeadline": "Young Hibs striker Oli Shaw keeps grounded despite the plaudits","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510900254000 ,"articleLead": "

It’s a moment Oli Shaw will never forget, his first goal for Hibs coming in their Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic at Hampden.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4615670.1510862982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Oli Shaw fires home in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden"} ,"articleBody": "

Ultimately, of course, the day ended in disappointment for the Easter Road outfit, beaten by Brendan Rodger’s side as they clocked up yet another game in their seemingly never-ending unbeaten run.

But the assured manner in which the teenage Shaw offered Neil Lennon’s players a glimmer of hope as he calmly slotted the ball past Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon with only his second touch of the ball confirmed what those who regularly watch the Capital club’s development squad had been claiming, that in the youngster Hibs have a top striker in the making.

It has, though, proved to be something of a double-edged sword for Shaw, Lennon’s surprise decision to throw him on in such a match and to leave Simon Murray sitting on the bench, having, apparently, had the desired effect, serving as something of a jolt to Hibs’ top scorer who ended a barren spell in front of goal to find the net in each of his team’s last three matches, taking his tally for the season to 13 and helping hoist them into third place in the Premiership.

As far as Shaw is concerned, though, there’s no reason to feel hard done by, the very fact Lennon was prepared to turn to him at that time further indication his gaffer has every faith in those coming through the club’s academy, one of eight accorded “Elite” status this week under the SFA’s new “Project Brave” youth system.

Although still only 19, Shaw was just too old to add to his Scotland Under-19 caps as Easter Road team-mates Ryan Porteous and Fraser Murray helped the young Scots qualify from a group containing Luxembourg, Armenia and the Czech Republic for the elite round of the European Championships over the course of the past few days.

Like Shaw the pair have been regular members of Lennon’s matchday squad, particularly so leading up to the international break when the Hibs boss found his options severely limited by an ever-growing casualty list which, thankfully, has eased somewhat as they prepare to resume league action against St Johnstone tomorrow hoping to clock up a fifth successive victory.

Pointing to how Lennon’s faith in youth was again underlined as Porteous made a half-time appearance in what proved to be a 2-1 win over Dundee last time out, Shaw said: “I think it’s about being patient.

“I am one of the younger players in the squad, it’s about biding my time and awaiting that opportunity which I am sure will come as the gaffer is not frightened to give young players their chance. Ryan coming on in the last couple of matches when it’s been tight has shown that.

“I got my chance at Hampden and scored a goal but Simon has been given his and taken it as well.”

The unveiling of what the SFA has categorised “Elite” academies will, unquestionably, reopen the argument as to the merits of such systems, some seeing today’s young players as being “molly-coddled,” pampered with the best of what the game has to offer in stark contrast to days gone by when youngsters were seen to succeed despite rather than because of the often basic facilities at their disposal.

The differing routes taken by Shaw and 25-year-old Murray to Hibs’ first team probably encapsulates that debate, the former seven years with the Easter Road club despite his still tender years while his older team-mate came up through the Juniors to combine working as a plumber with part-time football at Arbroath before winning his chance at Dundee United.

Shaw, however, argues that “elite” is nothing more than a word, adamant the goal of every player, whatever their path they have followed, is simply to enjoy playing football.

“To be honest, Simon has not really mentioned it,” he said, “He’s here to play football and just focuses on the job here. Obviously there’s different ways to get to the top, Simon has that off-field experience but he’s also worked hard to get where he is.”

So too, insisted Shaw, has he, Porteous, Fraser Murray and the other aspiring youngsters who currently sit atop of the SPFL Development League.

He said: “The coaches here keep you grounded, telling you when you do things well and not so well. It’s about taking things on board. We are just boys wanting to play football, hopefully taking the opportunity to play at a high level and to do it to a good standard.

“I’ve been here five or six years, I’ve come through from the Under-15s, all the way up. I enjoy playing here and hopefully I’ll get that chance to play regular first-team football.”

So far Shaw has scored nine goals this season for the Under-20 side to go with the 20-odd from last season, including a hat-trick in a 5-0 win against the McDiarmid Park outfit’s kids last month.

He said: “They had a young team out that day, but it was still great to get a hat-trick. Tomorrow, though, will be a different story. However, we are going into it high on confidence.

“I think the international break came at just the right time for us, we’d had a lot of games and there were a few niggles here and there. We’ve had time to recover and everyone has been flying in training this week so hopefully we can keep the momentum we’ve been building.”

Shaw’s determination to keep his feet on the ground remains despite Lennon having made an unlikely comparison between him and Harry Kane in that, like the Spurs and England striker, he appears to find goals hard to come by at the start of a season but then seems unable to stop scoring.

“I didn’t score in the first couple of games,” he admitted, “But I’ve got a few since. That’s part of being a striker, sometimes it falls for you, sometimes it doesn’t.

“It’s nice to be bracketed in that category but I am me. I’ll continue to stay level-headed and grounded, to concentrate on what I am doing which is working hard.”

Shaw might have expected to have been slaughtered by his team-mates following Lennon’s comments but he revealed it’s hardly been mentioned.

Even so, as tenuous as the link may appear to be at the moment, he is determined to emulate Kane who, at the age of 24 has 100 league goals in just 179 games to his name. The Hibs kid said: “You see him at the top of his game scoring week in, week out. That’s what I am aiming to do.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4615670.1510862982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4615670.1510862982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Oli Shaw fires home in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Oli Shaw fires home in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4615670.1510862982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-boss-sympathises-with-danny-swanson-over-off-field-woe-1-4614469","id":"1.4614469","articleHeadline": "Hibs boss sympathises with Danny Swanson over off-field woe","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510813840000 ,"articleLead": "

Neil Lennon has expressed sympathy with Danny Swanson over the off-field turmoil he has had to contend with while trying to make an impact at Hibs.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4614468.1510767054!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Swanson"} ,"articleBody": "

The 30-year-old midfielder’s early months at Easter Road have coincided with the trial of those accused of killing his best friend Shaun Woodburn following a fight outside a pub last New Year. Swanson, who was required to give evidence in court, last week publicly voiced his dismay at the “pitiful” sentences handed down to those involved in his long-time friend’s death and has been at the forefront of efforts to get the public to back a petition calling for more severe punishment.

Lennon admits Swanson’s off-field predicament hasn’t been conducive to the boyhood Hibs fan producing his best form since making his dream move to Easter Road from St Johnstone in the summer.

“It’s a horrible situation for Danny to go through so we just try to be as supportive as we can,” the manager told the Evening News. “It’s difficult to play under those circumstances, plus he’s had the injury as well. It’s been a bit stop-start for him but I totally understand it. Hopefully, once this ordeal is behind him, we’ll see the best of him going forward.”

Swanson has featured in just nine of Hibs’ 20 competitive games this season, with illness and injury also taking a toll. The former Dundee United, Hearts and St Johnstone player has appeared in only one of Hibs’ last eight matches and has missed the last four with a knee problem. Lennon had initially hoped to have him back for the recent trip to Kilmarnock but he is now set to remain sidelined for Saturday’s meeting with Saints at Easter Road. “Danny’s had a minor setback so he’s back in rehab,” confirmed Lennon.

The manager, meanwhile, is hopeful of having Steven Whittaker, Dylan McGeouch and David Gray available on Saturday after minor recent injury issues. Darren McGregor won’t be involved, however, as he continues to work his way back following a two-and-a-half-month lay-off with a knee problem which required surgery. “Darren’s back on the training ground now but it’ll be slow progress because of his injury history,” said Lennon of a player who was twice stricken by anterior crucial ligament damage earlier in his career. “He’s not had any setbacks but with the injury history he’s had, we’ve got to be careful with him. He’s going to need games as well.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4614468.1510767054!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4614468.1510767054!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Danny Swanson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Swanson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4614468.1510767054!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/david-wotherspoon-paul-hanlon-deserved-scotland-call-1-4614488","id":"1.4614488","articleHeadline": "David Wotherspoon: Paul Hanlon deserved Scotland call","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510813840000 ,"articleLead": "

David Wotherspoon was thrilled to see his old Hibs colleague Paul Hanlon earn a maiden call-up to the full Scotland squad for last week’s friendly against the Netherlands.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4614487.1510770729!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Hanlon, right, chats to Eric Black"} ,"articleBody": "

The 27-year-old pair came through the ranks at Easter Road and, after breaking into the first team, they both starred for Scotland U-21s.

“It was great news to see Paul get called up,” said Wotherspoon. “He recently moved round the corner from me, so I try and stay in touch with him, and I was absolutely delighted for him. We shared a room with Scotland Under-21s and went on a lot of trips together, so I’m glad he’s made it into the full squad. He’s a consistent player and has proven that over the last few years. He’s always had the quality and he’s been playing really well.”

Wotherspoon and Hanlon were part of a highly-regarded Hibs youth team which spawned four current Premiership regulars. Partick Thistle pair Callum Booth and Sean Welsh were team-mates of Wotherspoon as Alistair Stevenson’s Under-19 side claimed a historic league and Youth Cup double in 2008/09, shortly after Hanlon had been promoted to the first team. “We had a great youth team,” said the St Johnstone midfielder. “Paul moved into the first team a bit quicker than us but the rest of us did the Youth Cup and the league double which was a great success. Kurtis Byrne is playing at a decent level with St Patrick’s in Ireland and there are a few playing lower league in Scotland. There were a few in that team that I thought would progress a bit further, but sometimes players just don’t get the luck or the run that others do. Personally, I feel very lucky to be in the situation I’m in.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4614487.1510770729!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4614487.1510770729!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Paul Hanlon, right, chats to Eric Black","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Hanlon, right, chats to Eric Black","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4614487.1510770729!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/david-wotherspoon-i-loved-time-at-hibs-apart-from-two-snubs-1-4614474","id":"1.4614474","articleHeadline": "David Wotherspoon: I loved time at Hibs – apart from two snubs","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510813836000 ,"articleLead": "

Four and a half years after his promising start at Hibs fizzled out in demoralising fashion under Pat Fenlon, David Wotherspoon can now be considered as something of a Scottish Premiership stalwart.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4614472.1510767514!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Wotherspoon has not looked back since leaving Hibs"} ,"articleBody": "

The 27-year-old St Johnstone midfielder will always cherish memories of his career-igniting seven years at Easter Road, where he came through the ranks as part of a much-vaunted youth team, made a goal-scoring debut in the first team as a teenager under John Hughes and went on to accumulate more than 150 appearances over four largely enjoyable but fortune-fluctuating seasons.

Wotherspoon has no regrets about leaving Hibs when he did, immediately after suffering a second consecutive Scottish Cup final snub from Fenlon in 2013. However, he is still grateful to have represented the Edinburgh club and for being afforded a platform which allowed him to go on and play well over 300 competitive matches at Scotland’s top level, the vast majority as a starter.

Wotherspoon is relishing the chance to return to Easter Road as a player this Saturday for only the second time since leaving Hibs as Saints head to the Capital intent on stopping their own uncharacteristic form slide and simultaneously halting their on-song opponents in their tracks.

“I loved my time at Hibs,” Wotherspoon said.

“I was there from 16 years old to when I was 23 so I had a good seven years there and I really enjoyed it. I feel lucky to have been at Hibs. I was delighted with how many games I played although I was disappointed with how things ended. Overall, my time there was brilliant. I loved the club and I still have my connections there.

“A couple of my friends are big Hibs fans, so when I get the chance I go along with them. I love going back and I always see some familiar faces. Whenever I meet Hibs fans to this day, they still recognise me, and I love that. I’m looking forward to going back for the game on Saturday.”

Wotherspoon is in no doubt about his best moment in Hibs’ first team – his debut against St Mirren on the opening day of the 2009/10 campaign.

“I had played quite a few pre-season games that summer but I was quite lucky to get my competitive debut on the first day of the season because I think (Merouane) Zemmama was supposed to be starting but he came in ill,” recalls Wotherspoon.

“John Hughes chucked me in and fortunately I played well and scored a goal. They still had the old shed stand at the side at that point, and I remember scoring the equaliser in a 2-1 win. I think I got man-of-the-match as well, so it was brilliant. It’s a game I’ll always remember. I kept my place after that and I really enjoyed that season.

“John was brilliant with me, really encouraging. He was great to work with and was a top man as well. After that, we had a change of managers and a change of players – there was always change. These things happen in football so you’ve just got to ride with it. I was lucky with the managers I had at Hibs. Colin Calderwood was brilliant with me as well and Pat Fenlon was good, to an extent.”

That last line gives a subtle indication of the disenchantment the mild-mannered Wotherspoon felt at being omitted from the match-day squad for both the 2012 Scottish Cup final against Hearts and the one against Celtic a year later despite featuring prominently for the majority of the Irishman’s reign.

Indeed, Wotherspoon’s contribution against Hearts at Easter Road in December 2012 was crucial in Hibs earning their return to Hampden as his attempt from wide on the right took a wicked deflection off Marius Zaliukas and looped beyond Jamie MacDonald for the only goal of the fourth-round tie.

“I’ll always remember that goal against Hearts,” he said. “It did take a massive deflection but it’ll always rank up there as one of the best moments of my career. I’m still claiming it!”

Reflecting on not even making the bench for either of the two cup finals, when players who had contributed far less were picked ahead of him, it is clear Wotherspoon was irked.

“When I was left out the first time, I was disappointed considering how many games I’d played that season,” he said. “And then to miss out again the following season after the manager had said it was a mistake to leave me out the first time, it was just heart-breaking. I always felt it was a possibility that I’d be left out for the final against Celtic because I hadn’t been used in the semi-final against Falkirk either. At the same time, I had scored against Dundee on the last day of the league season, so I was still hopeful I’d be involved, but that never happened.

“It was all fairly amicable with the manager. It was his decision – he didn’t want to put me in because he felt I wouldn’t rise to the big occasion. It was unfortunate. I got along well with Pat but I was disappointed that I didn’t get into the squad after having had a good couple of seasons at the club. It felt like it was time to move on at that point because I couldn’t see things changing.

“The positive memories definitely outweigh the negative though. I got on with everyone at Hibs, it was a great club. I wish them all they success they get, except when they play us.”

Wotherspoon’s philosophical outlook probably owes plenty to the fact that being marginalised towards the end of his time at Hibs was not to the long-term detriment of his career. While the Edinburgh club suffered relegation the season after he left and then spent three years in the Championship, Wotherspoon swiftly banished demons by playing from the start as he capped his first season at Saints by helping them defeat Dundee United at Celtic Park to win the trophy in May 2014. In addition, he has been a mainstay throughout as his hometown team have finished each of the past four seasons in the top six of the Premiership under Tommy Wright.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start at St Johnstone,” said Wotherspoon. “The manager was brilliant with me from the start. He got me going and he got the team going. We had cup success in my first season, and that will always be in the memory.

“It’s been a good move for me. I’ve been playing regularly with a good group of boys in a team that’s been quite consistent over the years. I never had any worries about leaving Hibs when I did. I was looking to progress my career, and I feel like I have done that I haven’t looked back since I left.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4614472.1510767514!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4614472.1510767514!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Wotherspoon has not looked back since leaving Hibs","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Wotherspoon has not looked back since leaving Hibs","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4614472.1510767514!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4614473.1510767518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4614473.1510767518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Wotherspoon scores on his debut for Hibs","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Wotherspoon scores on his debut for Hibs","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4614473.1510767518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hearts-and-hibs-awarded-project-brave-elite-academy-status-1-4614142","id":"1.4614142","articleHeadline": "Hearts and Hibs awarded Project Brave ‘Elite’ academy status","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510754231000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts and Hibs have both been awarded ‘Elite’ academy status as the Scottish FA confirmed bandings for the new Project Brave youth set-up.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4614140.1510754228!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs and Hearts' development league sides face off at the Oriam in Edinburgh. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

The capital clubs are joined by Aberdeen, Celtic, Hamilton, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Rangers in the ‘Elite’ rank.

Ayr, Dundee United, Inverness, Partick Thistle, Ross County, St Mirren, St Johnstone and the Forth Valley academy - comprising Falkirk, Stenhousemuir and East Stirlingshire - make up the second tier ‘Progressive’ category.

A third tier, ‘Performance’ will be made up of Dundee, Morton, Queen’s Park and the Fife academy (Cowdenbeath, Dunfermline Athletic, East Fife and Raith Rovers).

Ross County and Morton’s positions in the second and third tiers may be subject to appeal.

Hibs’ Head of Football Operations George Craig said the entire staff at Easter Road was ‘thrilled’, adding: “Throughout Hibernian’s history the club has quite rightly prided itself on producing great footballers, and the club have made a serious commitment to making sure this continues in the years to come.

“Lewis Stevenson, Paul Hanlon and Steven Whittaker are the most notable Academy graduates in our first-team, with the likes of Oli Shaw, Fraser Murray and Ryan Porteous all regular features in the matchday squads.

“From Eddie May to all of our Academy staff, everyone is pulling in the same direction at the club and this is not only a sign of the quality work they do, but a testament to their dedication to producing young footballers here at Hibernian.”

Hearts Academy Manager Roger Arnott added: “We are delighted to be awarded ‘Elite’ status because a major part of our overall strategy is to develop young players and it is something we take very seriously.

“The recent inclusion of younger players in the first-team is a marker of our continued commitment to developing talented young players for the benefit of both Hearts and Scotland.

“We look forward to working with other clubs to push the standard of young players and raise the profile of the game in Scotland.”

The SFA’s Performance Director Malky Mackay said: “This is a significant milestone for Project Brave. From day one this has been a collaborative activity.

“We have been heartened and inspired by so many of the positive things we have seen in regards to the development of young Scottish footballers and our aim is to assist clubs and encourage them to hit the highest possible standards.

“No door is closed to clubs outside of the Elite bracket with aspirations to move up.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PATRICK MCPARTLIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4614140.1510754228!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4614140.1510754228!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs and Hearts' development league sides face off at the Oriam in Edinburgh. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs and Hearts' development league sides face off at the Oriam in Edinburgh. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4614140.1510754228!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4614141.1510754229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4614141.1510754229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "George Craig, Hibs' Head of Football Operations (left) and Hearts academy chief Roger Arnott. Pictures: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "George Craig, Hibs' Head of Football Operations (left) and Hearts academy chief Roger Arnott. Pictures: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4614141.1510754229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/big-interview-neil-lennon-loving-hibs-life-and-not-looking-elsewhere-1-4613414","id":"1.4613414","articleHeadline": "Big interview: Neil Lennon loving Hibs life and not looking elsewhere","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510727451000 ,"articleLead": "

Neil Lennon’s job satisfaction levels could hardly be higher as he reflects on his fruitful Hibs tenure thus far.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4613413.1510685458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neil Lennon is embracing life in the Lothians, playing the local golf courses and popping into Edinburgh to enjoy the citys culture and restaurants. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Since replacing Alan Stubbs as manager just short of 18 months ago, the 46-year-old has led the Easter Road side from the Championship to within five points of the top of the Premiership, a position he became accustomed to during distinguished times as both player and manager at Celtic. Relatively recent memories of firefighting at Bolton Wanderers ensure Lennon, who signed a contract extension in the summer, is able to fully appreciate the level of contentment he has found at Hibs, a club that would not initially have fitted with his plans when he chose to leave Celtic in order to progress his career as a manager in 2014.

“Sometimes you’re always looking for the next big move but the most important thing is that you’re happy in your work,” said Lennon in an interview with the Evening News. “As a manager you just want to work in a good environment. We’ve got a good structure here and a good facility, which is a big help. We’ve got a really good bunch of players in terms of quality and character, and they’re good to work with. I’ve got good people around me. I know people are starting to talk about me in relation to other jobs but I’m not looking anywhere else. I’m really focused. I signed a new contract because I’m happy here and want to progress the club.”

In restoring Hibs to the upper echelons of Scottish football so swiftly, Lennon has gone a long way to banishing any doubts about his managerial substance stemming from that chastening 17-month spell in charge of Bolton. The structure and stability at Easter Road is a far cry from the chaos he was thrust into the heart of in Lancashire. “From a personal point of view, I didn’t feel I needed reassurance that I was a good manager, but I think I probably needed to do well here in terms of the public perception of me as a manager,” he said. “Some people will have seen my results at Bolton and said ‘he’s been found out’ but it was just an impossible job. We did as well as we possibly could but there was no real leadership after the chairman fell seriously ill and I was having to deal with stuff that was nothing to do with football.

“This club is the total opposite to Bolton. Here, I can concentrate on the important stuff, which is the players and getting the team right. I feel refreshed here. Bolton was a one-off. There aren’t many clubs in the position Bolton were in. It was an experience I was able to learn from, but this club has certainly given me rejuvenation. I’m happy and satisfied, and I think that’s all you can ask for as a football manager.”

As someone who felt the intensity of representing Celtic for more than a decade, Lennon insists he still feels more than enough heat in his current guise as Hibs manager to keep himself motivated. “No matter where you go, any manager will tell you they are their own worst critic,” he said. “We all set ourselves targets. Allied to that, you’re analysed day in, day out, whether it’s your interviews, your body language, your persona. Ultimately everyone looks at your results as well. It’s certainly not as intense as life was in Glasgow, but there’s still an intensity and a responsibility in terms of managing a big city club and trying to get them challenging consistently, and I like that. That comes from being at a big club like Celtic, and you want to pass that on to the players in any way you can.”

Having removed himself from the renowned “Glasgow goldfish bowl”, Lennon is revelling in being able to remain a prominent member of the Scottish football scene without having his every move followed by someone who wants to acclaim or abuse him, depending on the team they support. Living in East Lothian has had a becalming effect on his off-field existence. “I’ve got a lot more freedom through here,” he said. “That took a bit of getting used to, in terms of not having so many people coming up to say ‘hello’ or talk about the team or whatever. There’s certainly a far more relaxed atmosphere through here - it’s not as intense. There’s a good rivalry with Hearts but it’s a lot more sociable, I suppose. There’s a lot more humour to it - it’s not got the same darkness or sinister aspect that the Old Firm has.”

As a man who, as evidenced by his touchline demeanour on a matchday, puts his heart and soul into ensuring his football team prosper, Lennon is aware of the need to ensure his dedication to his job doesn’t become all-consuming. More than seven years into his managerial career, he feels he is succeeding in finding a healthy balance between work and downtime. “Getting the balance comes with experience,” said Lennon. “You do live and breathe the game but there are times you have to get away or switch off. If things are going well, it’s fine. If things aren’t going well, it can encompass you, so you can’t let that happen because you have to have a work/life balance. I’m a lot better at doing that now than when I first came into management. Sometimes I’ll answer the phone on a day off and sometimes I’ll just leave the phone and say ‘I’ll deal with that tomorrow’ and try not to be so hard on myself in terms of feeling guilty about not taking a call. If it’s really important, you have to deal with things but I try not to stress myself too much about things, especially the things I can’t control.”

The simple things in life keep the Hibs manager ticking over in his spare time. “I just go home, spend time with the family, take the dog a walk, catch up with people,” said Lennon. “I play a bit of golf if I can when the weather’s good; this is a great area for it. The courses down North Berwick way are stunning. It’s a part of the world I wasn’t familiar with when I first came here but I’m really enjoying living here. I like living near Edinburgh. The city’s great. I’m in and out of the city but I don’t spend too much time there. I go out for a meal in places like Morningside, Portobello or Colinton. I try to vary it as much as I can.”

Lennon’s off-field contentment is reflected by the serene progress of his team of late, with a four-game winning streak prior to the international break lifting Hibs to third in the Premiership. “I think we’re exceeding my own expectations at the minute,” he said. “It’s still early in the season but we’ve got ourselves playing consistently well and in a good position in the league. We’ve dominated a lot of games. Early in the season we weren’t getting the results we felt we deserved but now we are. Our game management has improved and the quality of the football has been very good - there’s good pace in the team as well. It’s too early to think about increasing our expectations though because there could be so many things hiding round the corner like injuries, suspensions and a couple of defeats that could change the whole landscape. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Lennon’s only notable cause for regret over the past 18 months has been an inability to eke out victory in either the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen in April or last month’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic. Hibs were undermined by slow starts in both matches. “The only disappointments I’ve had here are the two cup semi-finals, but even then we were playing the two best teams in the country,” he said. “The Aberdeen game was the one that really got away. We looked like the team that were going to win it and then lost to a deflection. Those were the two main disappointments but the rest of it has been excellent. I’ve loved it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4613413.1510685458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4613413.1510685458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Neil Lennon is embracing life in the Lothians, playing the local golf courses and popping into Edinburgh to enjoy the citys culture and restaurants. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neil Lennon is embracing life in the Lothians, playing the local golf courses and popping into Edinburgh to enjoy the citys culture and restaurants. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4613413.1510685458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/lennon-eyes-new-hibs-recruits-but-is-braced-for-mcginn-bids-1-4613357","id":"1.4613357","articleHeadline": "Lennon eyes new Hibs recruits but is braced for McGinn bids","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510727447000 ,"articleLead": "

Neil Lennon intends to bolster his Hibs squad in the upcoming transfer window. However, the manager explained that the level of January recruitment will be dependent on whether or not the club are able to resist any offers for star man John McGinn.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4613356.1510680889!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neil Lennon is expecting bids for Hibs midfielder John McGinn in January. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Hibs currently sit third in the Ladbrokes Premiership despite being depleted by a string of injuries to key men like Darren McGregor, Steven Whittaker, David Gray and Anthony Stokes. Lennon is wary of the fact his squad has had a threadbare look in recent weeks, particularly in defence, and, as a result, is already plotting to bring in at least one new face. The potential departure of Scotland midfielder McGinn, whose stock level has continued to soar since he was the subject of failed offers from Nottingham Forest in August, would necessitate further transfer 
activity at Easter Road.

“I would like a bit more depth to the squad,” Lennon told the Evening News. “Going into the Dundee game, we only had 18 fit players and by half-time we’d lost three of them. We’re a little bit light in numbers so we’ll look in January to see if we can strengthen. I don’t want to over-egg the squad either but we will look at areas where we could do with an extra body.

“We’ve had a bad run with injuries, which is outwith our control, but we will look to add one or two to the squad. Plus there is probably an inevitability about bids coming in, particularly John. We have to be realistic about that, weigh it up and be prepared for that eventuality if it does happen. If the club get an offer that they can’t refuse, that could potentially alter what we’ve got to spend. I’m hoping that won’t be the case, but the way John’s playing, it’s going to be very hard to hold on to him for the foreseeable future.”

Lennon explained that any January business is likely to hinge on how his squad is looking towards the end of next month. “You can’t have a clear idea at this stage because you don’t know what’s around the corner in terms of injuries and things like that,” he said. “We are looking at players for recruitment in January and hopefully we can get one or two in of the quality who can help us do what we want to do, as opposed to just being squad fillers. We definitely don’t want a big overhaul though. Continuity has been really important for us.”

Lennon confirmed that there has been no further movement with regard to the possibility of Kris Commons returning to Hibs. The 34-year-old, who is now a free agent after leaving Celtic in the summer, had a fruitful month on loan at Easter Road last winter and Lennon has never hidden the fact he would be keen to land the attacker once more if he can regain full fitness following a back problem. “There’s nothing at the minute with Commons,” said the manager. “I don’t think he’s back in full training yet. We didn’t feel he would be ready until the turn of the year anyway, so we’ll just keep an eye on that.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4613356.1510680889!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4613356.1510680889!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Neil Lennon is expecting bids for Hibs midfielder John McGinn in January. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neil Lennon is expecting bids for Hibs midfielder John McGinn in January. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4613356.1510680889!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/ex-celtic-and-hibs-star-liam-miller-battling-cancer-1-4611763","id":"1.4611763","articleHeadline": "Ex-Celtic and Hibs star Liam Miller ‘battling cancer’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510667198000 ,"articleLead": "

Former Celtic and Hibs midfielder Liam Miller is fighting cancer, according to his friends in football.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4611761.1510667193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Liam Miller is battling cancer according to his friends in football. Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Aidan Smith: ‘Hampden is where it all began’

Miller is understood to have undergone treatment for pancreatic cancer in the United States and will begin chemotherapy back in the British Isles.

The well-travelled footballer lives in his hometown Cork with his wife and three children.

Friend Tam McManus wrote on Twitter: “Awful news about Liam Miller keep the fingers crossed that he somehow pulls through.

“Was in the USA for treatment this month and flys back tomorrow to start chemo here.

“He starts chemo tomorrow and is fighting hard really can’t go into any more detail than that out of respect for him and family. Praying he can get better.”

Ex-Republic of Ireland international team-mate Noel Hunt added: “Such sad news about my old room-mate Liam Miller. Pray to God he pulls through this battle with Cancer, my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

Miller started his career with Celtic before a 2004 move to Manchester United. He played on loan at Leeds United before spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers.

He returned to Scotland with Hibs in 2009 before moving to Australia.

READ MORE - Family sue Celtic after fan fell to his death at Celtic Park

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CRAIG FOWLER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4611761.1510667193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4611761.1510667193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Liam Miller is battling cancer according to his friends in football. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Liam Miller is battling cancer according to his friends in football. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4611761.1510667193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4611762.1510667195!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4611762.1510667195!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Liam Miller started his career with Celtic. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Liam Miller started his career with Celtic. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4611762.1510667195!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5645878221001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/john-hughes-reveals-his-sadness-and-hopes-for-liam-miller-1-4612304","id":"1.4612304","articleHeadline": "John Hughes reveals his sadness – and hopes – for Liam Miller","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510647373000 ,"articleLead": "

Former Hibs manager John Hughes has offered his support to Liam Miller in the 36-year-old’s battle against cancer, and has described the former Hibs, Celtic and Manchester United midfielder as ‘one of the best professionals’ he has worked with.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4612303.1510647369!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Hughes started his career at Hutchie Vale"} ,"articleBody": "

Hughes brought Miller to Easter Road in 2009 and the ex-Republic of Ireland internationalist played his part in gaining a fourth-place finish that earned Hibs entry to the Europa League. Such was Miller’s influence that season that he was named the league sponsor’s Player of the Month for October.

While Hughes, who was promoting Lothian Thistle’s William Hill Scottish Cup tie against St Mirren, had been aware of the Irishman’s plight, news of Miller’s battle reached the pubic domain via social media late on Sunday evening.

“It’s absolute tragic news,” said Hughes.

“I knew he had cancer and all my hope and prayers are with him. He’s a fighter. If anybody can come through, he can, that’s for sure.

“It puts football into perspective doesn’t it? We all love football but there are more important things, and that’s life.

“All my hope and prayers are for the Miller family and hopefully he can come through it.”

Miller moved to Old Trafford after beginning his career at Celtic and also turned out for Sunderland and QPR before returning north of the border.

Hughes had no hesitation in recruiting the dynamic midfielder and was hugely impressed by Miller’s dedication on and off the pitch.

He added: “I signed Liam and I couldn’t believe it, it was like winning the lottery because the window had closed. One of the players I worked with was Graham Barrett, I signed him from Arsenal for Falkirk, and they were best of mates.

“Graham phoned me up and said, ‘what about Liam?’ I said, ‘get him up here’ and I couldn’t believe my luck when he walked through the door.

“He was one of the best professionals I’ve ever worked with, he was unbelievable. He had a great sense of humour, but a quiet sense of humour.

“Always out on the training pitch with a ball 15 minutes before training started.

“I think Liam got in the team of the year that season, that just shows you. He just wanted to come and play football, he made all his money with Celtic, Manchester United.

“He was very quiet and kept himself to himself but he was always in the background cranking it up and letting other people fire the bullets.”

Given his quality and dedication to his fitness, Hughes insists Miller became a natural role-model for the younger generation at Hibs.

He added: “You just say to the young boys, ‘get yourself close to Miller’, because he was one of the best professionals; body fat, ripped, training like an absolute Trojan – unbelievable. David Wotherspoon always got close to him. The fittest professional I’ve ever worked with. We used to do the bleep test and he would run it off the clock.

“You could turn the lights off. He would still be going after the final bleep and everyone else was lying down, struggling for oxygen.

“That’s his dedication to be a professional footballer. He was out 15 minutes before and never came off after it, he always said: ‘can we get shooting, can we do this?’

“That Hibs team was a good team, we played some wonderful football and he was the catalyst for doing that.

“It’s a pleasure to know him and work with him.”

Miller enjoyed a spell in Australia with Perth Glory, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City before returning to home town club Cork in 2015.

Mostly recently, the player had been with American semi-professional club Wilmington Hammerheads and Hughes had kept in touch with 21-times capped internationalist through former Hibs midfielder Kevin McBride, who was assistant manager at Raith Rovers.

“I was talking to Kevin McBride, he was keeping me updated because we knew for a while.

“He is really close with him, he was over in America.

“He was always articulate and switched on and he would send him wee photos of himself on the beach, giving him stick and all that. A wonderful guy.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4612303.1510647369!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4612303.1510647369!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John Hughes started his career at Hutchie Vale","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Hughes started his career at Hutchie Vale","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4612303.1510647369!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/kevin-harper-no-need-to-rush-stokes-back-into-hibs-team-1-4612302","id":"1.4612302","articleHeadline": "Kevin Harper: No need to rush Stokes back into Hibs team","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510641051000 ,"articleLead": "

Kevin Harper insists there is no need to rush star striker Anthony Stokes back into Hibs’ starting line-up.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4612301.1510592409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anthony Stokes"} ,"articleBody": "

The Irishman returned to the side as a first-half substitute in the recent victory over Dundee after missing the three previous matches with an ankle injury.

Stokes being sidelined coincided with Hibs embarking on a four-game winning streak as Martin Boyle, albeit playing primarily wide on the right, and Simon Murray, rediscovered their scoring touch in his absence – both players netting three times in this run.

Prior to his injury, Stokes was widely viewed as undroppable, but restoring the marquee summer signing to the side for this Saturday’s visit of St Johnstone would likely involve Neil Lennon having to drop an on-song Boyle or Murray, or one of the four in-form midfielders, John McGinn, Marvin Bartley, Dylan McGeouch or Brandon Barker.

“The manager will be delighted that he’s got three such good options in attack,” former Hibs striker Harper told the Evening News. “It’s a dilemma but he’s paid to deal with them. The big question at this point in time is, does Stokes go straight back in? In my opinion, probably not purely because the other two are on fire. Stokes is the best striker out of the three, but you don’t really want to change a winning side unless you have to.

“With Stokes coming back from injury, it helps that the others who have been playing up front in his absence are on fire. That means he doesn’t have to force him back into the team. Imagine having Stokes to come off the bench. Boyle can play wide so that’s an option if the manager wanted to bring Stokes back into the fold. If everyone’s fit, a big player is always going to miss out but that’s what every manager wants. They want to have options.”

While Harper would be happy to let Stokes start on the bench this weekend, he is in no doubt that the former Celtic and Blackburn Rovers striker will prove in the longer term that he is still the best available striking option at the club. “When you’ve got Anthony Stokes, the temptation is always to put him in because he’s the standout of the three, in my opinion,” said Harper. “In fact, he’s one of the standout strikers in the Scottish Premiership. When he’s on it, he’s the number one striker at Hibs. He’s the one with the experience and the guile to change a game. He gives you something different from the likes of Murray and Boyle. His hold-up play is much better. He’s not as quick as the other two but he brings Boyle and Murray into play when they play with him. He gives you the threat of a No.9 but he can also drop in and link play.”

Stokes scored eight goals prior to his injury, but there is a consensus that the 2016 Scottish Cup final hero is yet to hit top gear since returning to the club for a third spell in the summer. “Stokes was scoring goals before he got injured but he’s still getting up to speed,” said Harper. “He didn’t really play down at Blackburn and he seemed to be all over the place last season, but his fitness is getting better and better every week. He’s said himself, Neil Lennon is the man who is best at getting him focused and an Anthony Stokes on form is certainly one of the better strikers in the Premiership.”

Meanwhile, Hibs’ development team face Dundee in a top-of-the-table clash at Oriam at 2pm today.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4612301.1510592409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4612301.1510592409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Anthony Stokes","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anthony Stokes","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4612301.1510592409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/marvin-bartley-is-hibs-version-of-nemanja-matic-1-4612300","id":"1.4612300","articleHeadline": "Marvin Bartley ‘is Hibs’ version of Nemanja Matic’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510641031000 ,"articleLead": "

Gordon Rae played behind his fair share of midfielders during 13 years as a Hibs centre-back, but he believes one of the current crop is among one of the best he’s seen at Easter Road.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4612297.1510592333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Marvin Bartley, pictured playing for Hibs against Motherwell, has impressed in many of Hibs matches this season. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Marvin Bartley’s performances might not catch the headlines in the same way the likes of John McGinn or Dylan McGeough do, but the job he does for Neil Lennon’s team, according to Rae, makes him as important to Hibs as Nemanja Matic is to Manchester United.

The Hibees sit third in the Ladbrokes Premiership and have impressed on their return to the top flight. Rae, pictured bottom right, believes Bartley is a major factor in their success.

“For me, the boy Bartley is key to the whole thing,” he said. “He’s the guy that’s just happy to sit there. Lennon can pick his team around him being there, stable and knowing he’s not going to get carried away and go charging on past players. He’s a big strong guy, covers the ground well and just looks to me like he loves playing that position.

“Mourinho’s always talking about having stolen Matic off of Chelsea. These guys who can get the ball, keep it simple, keep it solid and be strong on the tackle, that’s what Bartley does – it’s brilliant.

“Obviously your goalscorers are going to be regarded as the most important. Having played most of my career as a defender, you appreciate guys that will just sit in that hole there. He does a great job – he lets the full-backs go, he can let the more attacking midfielders play.

Right back to the semi-final two years ago against Dundee United, he was magnificent. He then missed out a few games before the end of the season. He’s maybe not the most important, but definitely one of the key players.”

The holding midfielder role wasn’t as prevalent in Rae’s time in green and white, but there were those with similar responsibilities.

“We didn’t really have anyone that did that,” he recalled. “Dezzy Bremner did it to start with, but he was different because he just motored along. Neilly Orr, when he came he used just sit in front of us and when the centre backs were challenging and it was dropping, Neilly had a great knack of just sweeping up.

“I’m not saying they’re water carriers – they’re really important for us – but they know their role and understand the game. All the great teams have them. In England, they’re all talking about the midfield player who’ll sit. They’re all looking for them.”

It’s of course not a one-man show at Easter Road, and Rae is effusive in his praise of Neil Lennon. Thoughts will naturally turn to how long Hibs can keep a hold of their manager should the upward trajectory continue. Rae hopes it’s a long time and cautioned that life away from Hibs may not be as enjoyable.

“I think the club keeps them [manager and players] together,” he said. “Hibs are playing in front of almost full houses every home game now and that shows you what it’s all about. Where are they going to go and get better? They’ll maybe get better wages, but the grass isn’t always greener.

“That’s one of the big worries – if he goes, what happens? I think he looks quite happy – he’s rejuvenated his career at Hibs. He had a tough time at Bolton but he’s come back and got things going. He looks like he’s got a bit of fire in his belly again, like he was four, five or six years ago.

“Again, where does he go and get better? Alan Stubbs left after he won the Scottish Cup and within six months he’s out of business, he’s gone.

“Bolton was maybe the heart strings tugging him back to England. That’s something for him and the club to sit down about. For me, he can stay as long as he likes! The players obviously like him and the one thing that comes across is that he doesn’t miss them if they’re not performing. He’ll tell them exactly what’s happening and what they’ve got to improve.

“I think we’ve won a watch and the club’s fortunate to have him. The whole thing’s in good nick just now so long may it continue.”

Given Lennon’s Edinburgh derby record, the maroon half of the city will no-doubt hope bigger clubs come calling sooner rather than later. Hibs are unbeaten under Lennon, drawing one and winning two against their neighbours. Simon Murray’s early strike won the only league meeting of the season between the pair last month.

While obviously enjoying this current trend, Rae – whose time at Hibs coincided with a 17-game unbeaten run of Hearts and the beginnings of 22-in-a-row – knows only too well how cycles of derby dominance can shift.

“When I was first involved with derbies, we used to win them fairly regularly,” he explained. “Then it changed. I hope it won’t change again for a long, long time! It will change again, but there’s lots to look forward to and lots to be optimistic about. Really, things are going well.

Rae believes the togetherness and continuity forged by three years in the Championship has given Hibs the edge in recent derbies.

“I think maybe the three years they spent down in the Championship gave them an opportunity to really get together,” he assessed. “It looks to me like they’re a good unit with a good bond. The teams that do really well are teams that are together. Hibs are a right good unit that want to work hard for each other and put their boot in together, do things as a team. I think that comes from the manager and the coaching staff. It’s been instilled in them.

“They had a building process to put things together and even before Neil Lennon, Alan Stubbs started it. It’s been a continuous adding process and it looks to me like it’s really coming together.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ROSS PILCHER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4612297.1510592333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4612297.1510592333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Marvin Bartley, pictured playing for Hibs against Motherwell, has impressed in many of Hibs matches this season. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Marvin Bartley, pictured playing for Hibs against Motherwell, has impressed in many of Hibs matches this season. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4612297.1510592333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4612298.1510592338!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4612298.1510592338!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nemanja Matic in action for Man Utd. Pic: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nemanja Matic in action for Man Utd. Pic: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4612298.1510592338!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4612299.1510592341!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4612299.1510592341!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gordon Rae","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gordon Rae","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4612299.1510592341!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-ladies-finish-as-runners-up-again-1-4611600","id":"1.4611600","articleHeadline": "Hibs Ladies finish as runners-up – again","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1510554600000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs Ladies will finish this season’s SWPL 1 runners-up for the third consecutive year as Glasgow City were crowned league champions at Ainslie Park.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4611599.1510522720!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lauren McMurchie scored the opening goal"} ,"articleBody": "

The Capital side had to avoid defeat if they were to keep their title hopes alive but were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Scott Booth’s side - all three goals coming inside the opening 45 minutes.

The hosts were without captain Joelle Murray and midfielder Lisa Robertson who were both suspended following their red cards against Rangers last weekend.

Lauren McMurchie struck the opener after 16 minutes when she found space inside the box to shoot past Hibs No.1 Jenna Fife.

Abbi Grant doubled the visitors’ advantage before the Glasgow outfit sealed their 11th consecutive league title when Hayley Lauder added a third just a minute later.

Hibs rallied in the second half but Kevin Milne’s side couldn’t find a way through a resilient City defence.

The two sides meet again later this month in the SSE Scottish Cup final at Livingston’s Tony Macaroni Arena.

Meanwhile, Spartans Women were 3-0 winners at Hamilton and, in SWPL 2, Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale ran out 2-1 winners against city rivals Hearts.

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