Pat Fenlon today shrugged off Neil Lennon’s stinging criticism of Hibs’ style of play and ordered more of the same against Aberdeen at Easter Road tomorrow.
Celtic boss Lennon lashed out in the wake of last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Easter Road, branding tackles by Fenlon’s players “reckless and rugby-esque”.
It was Hibs defender Michael Nelson, however, who ended up the most serious casualty, with the Englishman suffering a suspected fractured eye socket in an aerial challenge with Hoops substitute Amido Balde.
Hibs were today still awaiting a full report from medics on the extent of Nelson’s injury following a hospital visit yesterday but he has already been ruled out of the Dons clash, with skipper James McPake set to start his first Scottish Premiership match of the season.
Hibs fear Nelson could be out for some weeks, but Fenlon refused to become embroiled in a war of words with Lennon, again expressing his delight with the performance his team produced against the champions and exhorting them to come up with more of the same for the visit of Aberdeen.
Agreeing that over the years most teams have tended to suffer a reaction following a big display against either side of the Old Firm, the Hibs manager said: “We have to make sure we bring the same intensity to the game and I think it’s a plus we are playing Aberdeen because there will be a big crowd, a good atmosphere and it’s against a team that are going really well themselves.
“So it’s a good game to bounce back into after Celtic. I think Aberdeen are a good yardstick for us. Everybody has tipped them to probably be behind Celtic so we have to make sure that when we go up against the likes of Aberdeen we are competitive and try to get ourselves into a position to be able to match them.”
Derek McInnes’ side currently lie two points ahead of Hibs, who go into the match having lost just one of their last nine matches and that’s a run Fenlon is anxious to keep going, well aware victory would lift his side above the Dons and into fourth place in the table.
He said: “That’s always a good incentive going into matches but I don’t think we should need one at the moment. We are on a decent run and if we can keep winning games then you get into good areas. It’s another home game and it’s important for us to try to back up the point from last Saturday with another three.
“If you are playing Celtic and then Aberdeen I think to pick up four points out of six you’d be pleased.” Meanwhile, McInnes today pinpointed Paul Heffernan, scorer of Hibs goal against Celtic as the Capital club’s danger man.
He said: “Heffernan has proved he can score goals in our league without necessarily getting too much service. He’s someone we will definitely need to be mindful of.”