James Keatings return can be ‘spark’ for Lennon’s Hibs

James Keatings, left, made his first Hibs appearance in two months against Raith last weekend. Pic: Ian Georgeson

James Keatings, left, made his first Hibs appearance in two months against Raith last weekend. Pic: Ian Georgeson

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Hibs boss Neil Lennon believes the return to action of James Keatings will bring “a spark” to the Easter Road club’s performances.

Although Lennon described his side’s display against Raith Rovers as their best for a number of weeks, they could manage no better than a 1-1 draw, a result which saw them knocked off the top of the Ladbrokes Championship table for the first time since October 15 as Dundee United took pole position in the title race.

Lennon has found his options restricted in recent weeks with influential midfielders John McGinn and Fraser Fyvie sidelined, prompting him to bring in veteran Celtic player Kris Commons on a short-term emergency loan, while Keatings brought a two-month absence to an end with an appearance as a substitute against Raith.

He immediately took over the responsibility of taking inswinging corners from the right and Lennon admitted he believes Keatings’ left-footed deliveries can help his side find the cutting edge they’ve been lacking, pointing to the 21 efforts they had on the Raith goal with only Martin Boyle’s late equaliser to show for their efforts.

Lennon said: “We need to be more ruthless, clinical. We need someone to put the icing on the cake because our football was decent, our intensity was good.

“James had played in a development game last week and hopefully he will add a little spark to what we are doing.

“His set-pieces are good. We just need to get on to the end of them because he puts the ball into good areas with plenty of pace.”

Lennon also welcomed the return of midfielder Dylan McGeouch from a short-term ankle problem but also praised the contribution of 19-year-old Scott Martin, who made his first start since the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup match against Turriff United at the beginning of September.

Lennon said: “Dylan was excellent, but so was Scott.”