Neil Lennon has threatened to “throw in the kids” for Wednesday night’s Scottish Cup replay against Hearts after branding Hibs’ performance against struggling Raith Rovers as “disgraceful”.
The Easter Road boss was seething after watching his side pass up the chance to go nine points clear at the top of the Championship, a terrific free-kick from top scorer Jason Cummings again salvaging a draw for the Capital outfit.
His 16th goal of the season cancelled out former Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson’s first strike for the Fife side to stretch Hibs’ advantage over Dundee United to seven points with Falkirk and Morton two further behind.
But, insisted Lennon, that was little consolation on a day he accused his players of lacking quality, urgency, organisation, leadership and professionalism, claiming they’d shown exactly why they are spending a third season in the second tier of Scottish football.
Adamant only Lewis Stevenson, Darren McGregor and Brian Graham were worthy of a pass mark as Raith maintained their record of being the only side not to have been defeated by Hibs in the Championship this season, Lennon claimed his side’s display was “indefensible”.
Refusing to use the impending visit of Hearts as any sort of excuse, he said: “Some of them won’t play on Wednesday. If they want to know why then they can watch the first hour of that game.
“It was insipid, disrespectful to the opposition, ordinary. Everything we had last week [against Hearts at Tynecastle] was missing, We gave a goal and an hour’s start to a team that hadn’t won in 14 games.”
Although he’s threatened to wield the axe, Lennon’s options are limited with Paul Hanlon, Jordon Forster, Dylan McGeouch and Danny Handling all injured, a fact highlighted by the presence of three development squad players on the bench at Stark’s Park with two of them, Callum Donaldson and Scott Martin, having played the full 90 minutes of the SFA Youth Cup quarter-final against Celtic the day before.
Asked how in those circumstances he can change things, Lennon, who refused to let any of his players speak to the press afterwards, replied: “I will play the kids if I have to. I’ll work with the players in the next couple of days but I am angry and I have every right to be. It was unacceptable but Wednesday night is not an issue for me, the league is but hopefully we will prevail and go on to the next stage.”