Neil Lennon says he’ll feel sorry for everyone sitting around him in the Brondby Stadion tonight – because he’ll be kicking every ball with his players.
The Hibs boss will have to watch from afar as his side attempt to overcome a 1-0 deficit from the first leg of their Europa League second qualifying round tie after being hit by a one-match touchline ban.
Lennon was sent to the stand seven days ago after remonstrating with assistant referee Miguel Martinez, who had ruled what he saw as a perfectly good goal from Jason Cummings offside.
And, although the Easter Road club have made representations to UEFA, Lennon won’t be allowed anywhere near his team’s dressing-room before or during the game while he’s also banned from the tunnel and away dug-out.
Lennon’s assistant Garry Parker will take charge alongside academy coaching manager Eddie May with the manager also unable to communicate with them in any form but, he insisted, that won’t stop him playing his part in the match.
“I’ll be agitated,” admitted Lennon. “Antsy, kicking every ball.”
Although a week has passed since his dismissal by Spanish referee Juan Martinez Munuera, a decision he described “a piece of nonsense”, Lennon revealed he still feels aggrieved, particularly as he had no right of appeal.
He said: “We have sent in a submission on behalf of myself and the club. They’ll take it from there, but there will be no decision before the game so it is pretty tough and pretty frustrating. It’s very very harsh the way it is handled because a manager can’t do his job properly for a petty misdemeanour. It’s hard to stomach.”
Lennon’s players were caught cold last week, goalkeeper Otso Virtanen spilling Martin Albrechsten’s shot after 16 seconds, gifting Brondby striker Kamil Wilczek an easy goal, but the head coach insisted they are confident of redressing the balance tonight.
He said: “We’ve had a good look at Brondby and they’ve had a good look at us. I have players going into an away tie in Europe for the first time so they have to acclimatise quickly.
“We will try and pass on as much information as possible, although not too much as we don’t want to spook them. We must let them go and play the game, making sure we stay in the tie in the first 15-20 minutes and making sure we work them at the other end as well.
“They showed a good will and desire last week. They’re confident without being over confident. There’s no arrogance about the bunch. I’m pleased with the character in the team – it’s better than I thought – and they’re going to have to show it tonight and show they want it more than Brondby, which I think they do, and then let the talent take over.
“After losing a goal after 16 seconds they can be forgiven for thinking there was going to be an avalanche, but there wasn’t and there wasn’t a difference between the sides physically or technically and it should give them confidence.”
Fraser Fyvie travelled to Copenhagen with his team-mates as he battles to overcome the knee injury which kept him out of the first leg, Lennon revealing: “We’re waiting on Fraser. He’s touch and go but it will be the same squad.”