Neil Lennon: No qualms over Steven Whittaker Hibs deal

Steven Whittaker takes in Hibs 4-0 win over Montrose from the stands with Danny Swanson, left, and Paul Hanlon, right
Steven Whittaker takes in Hibs 4-0 win over Montrose from the stands with Danny Swanson, left, and Paul Hanlon, right
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Hibs boss Neil Lennon has insisted he had no qualms about offering 33-year-old Steven Whittaker a long-term contract.

Whittaker has returned to Easter Road for a second spell on a three-year deal, becoming Lennon’s fifth signing of the summer after being released by English Championship outfit Norwich City.

Lennon has no doubts Whittaker, who left the Capital club a decade ago in a £2million move to Rangers, belieiving he still has years left in him, describing a player who can operate in both full-back positions and in midfield as “a model pro”.

Whittaker was ineligible to face Montrose as Hibs kicked-off their season with a comfortable 4-0 victory in the Betfred Cup, but he watched the match from high in the main stand as new striker Simon Murray grabbed a double and Fraser Murray and Brian Graham one apiece.

Lennon said: “Steven will be a great signing for us, the quality and experience he will bring. He will make us better.

“He’s 33, but players play longer now. He’s in great condition, he’s looked great running-wise in pre-season. He looks fine and has plenty left in him.

“I had no qualms at all about giving him a three-year deal. The way he has looked after himself, the way he plays the game, three years is no problem to me at all.

“Steven is a natural athlete. I’ve always admired him as a player, he has been very consistent in his career. He started off here, had a great time and at Rangers he was probably first pick in most of the games, including all the big games.

“He went to Norwich, got a promotion and played in the Premier League. We’ve got an English Championship player coming to play for us, which is great.”

Former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant won’t, however, be joining Hibs after playing in all three pre-season matches, Lennon revealing he is “prioritising” other positions, although he might review the 34-year-old’s situation in future.

With Efe Ambrose and Paul Hanlon yet to return to the squad and Marvin Bartley rested against Montrose, Lennon said: “We’re looking stronger, but we’re thin on the ground in terms of numbers so we need to bring someone in.”