Neil Lennon believes the capture of Israeli international goalkeeper Ofir Marciano is “a bit of a coup” for the Easter Road club.
The 26-year-old has signed on a season-long loan deal from his hometown club FC Ashdod and, having experience of bringing the likes of Beram Kayal and Nir Bitton from Israel to Celtic, Lennon is convinced Marciano will also prove to be a huge success in Scotland.
The Capital club are still waiting for the necessary red tape – a work permit and international clearance – to be completed before deciding whether Marciano will be thrown into action against Falkirk in tomorrow’s opening Championship match of the new season.
But Lennon is in no doubt he’s pulled off a smart piece of business in landing what he has already stated will be his No.1 goalkeeper with Ross Laidlaw and Otso Virtanen as back-up.
The Hibs boss said: “Ofir is an international goalkeeper, he played in all the qualification games for them in the Euros and played pretty well. He’s got a great pedigree so it’s a bit of a coup really to get a goalkeeper of that ilk to come and play here in the Championship in Scotland.
“I tip my hat to the backroom team here and the board for being able to get him.”
Marciano’s agent Dudu Dahan was also instrumental in the arrival of midfielders Kayal and Bitton at Celtic Park. Lennon said: “I have a good relationship with Dudu and I think that was important in Ofir coming here, what we could offer him.
“He was blown away by the training ground and the stadium. We have good things in place here to bring players in and tip the balance. He only trained yesterday and tomorrow might come too soon. We’re still waiting on all the paperwork to come through, but even if it does we’ll have a decision to make.
“But Ofir is built for the British game. The Israeli boys are tough, Kayal and Bitton are very good professionals, they have a good mentality for the game.”
Meanwhile, Lennon intends to make an appearance at UEFA to plead his case as he appeals the “excessive” five-game ban which was slapped on him after being sent to the stand during the first leg of the Europa League tie with Brondby.
Lennon admitted he “spat his coffee out” when told of the severity of the suspension which he described as “a piece of nonsense”. Hibs had lodged a submission on their manager’s behalf following the incident which took place after what Lennon saw as a perfectly good goal from Jason Cummings chopped off for offside and was said to be mystified at the wording of the charge against him, of “acts of violence” against the Spanish referee.
“Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous,” was Lennon’s reaction. “We put a submission in at the time but that’s obviously been ignored.
“We will appeal. I think it’s best to go in person if you can so hopefully they will hear what I have to say.”
A date for a hearing has yet to be decided, but Lennon added: “I’d have thought the game and a half [ban] I served should be enough. If you are talking about additional games, one maybe at most. But five? To say it’s excessive is an under-statement.”
Lennon also disclosed he is hoping to hear shortly from Celtic regarding the future of midfielder Liam Henderson who Hibs would like to return following his highly-successful loan spell in Edinburgh. He said: “Celtic wanted to get the Champions League qualifiers out the way. We might have an answer in the next few days.”
However, he insisted there was nothing in reports linking him with a move for St Mirren youngster Stevie Mallan.