Neil Lennon aims to add ‘a bit of quality’ to Hibs’ solid core

Neil Lennon is delighted to have kept last season's back-line intact
Neil Lennon is delighted to have kept last season's back-line intact
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Neil Lennon believes Hibs have a solid base to build from as he bids to bring some additional stardust to his squad in the coming weeks.

The manager is thrilled that the Easter Road club have been able to keep last season’s Championship-winning defensive unit intact by signing goalkeeper Ofir Marciano on a four-year contract, while also securing David Gray, Lewis Stevenson, Efe Ambrose, Liam Fontaine and Darren McGregor on new deals over the close season. Former Scotland full-back Steven Whittaker is set to be added to this pool in the coming days.

Lennon recognises that his squad is “a bit thin” in other areas following the departures of midfielders and attackers like Fraser Fyvie, Andrew Shinnie, Jason Cummings, Grant Holt and James Keatings. But, as Hibs prepare to kick off their competitive campaign at home to Montrose in the Betfred Cup today, the manager is optimistic that gaps in his squad will soon be filled by high-quality new recruits.

“We’ve got a solid base now of guys who have played together and I think that’s important,” said Lennon. “The core of the squad is good – now we just need to add a bit of quality here and there. We’re anticipating a good season, but that’s never a guarantee. We’re very pleased with the business we’ve done and hopefully we’ll have some more names that will appeal to the supporters.”

Lennon places high emphasis on having a reliable goalkeeper in place, and in that regard is delighted that Hibs were able to land Marciano, the Israeli internationalist, on a permanent deal after he impressed on loan from Ashdod last term.

“Ofir really enjoyed being here last year – he enjoyed the football and he enjoyed the culture that Scotland brings,” said the manager. “He was very enthusiastic about coming back so we’re really pleased that we got the deal done. To get him on a long-term deal is a real coup for the club.

“He’s at a really good age for the position. He’s fresh because he didn’t play a lot of football the season before last and he’s quality. He brings a lot of class and composure to the position. It’s always important to have a good goalkeeper, especially when you’re taking the step up, so we were delighted to get him.”