Neil Lennon believes Hibs have rediscovered their early-season swagger but admitted it will again be sorely tested by table-topping Rangers and the Premiership’s shock troops Livingston over the next few days.
The Easter Road outfit go into tomorrow night’s rearranged match with Rangers looking for an Old Firm double following their “remarkable” victory over Celtic, knowing another win will take them back into the top half of the table before Livingston come calling at the weekend.
Insisting each of those games is as big as the other, Lennon admitted he’s hoping to see his side continue that climb before the winter break, a trip to Ibrox next midweek and a second Edinburgh derby of the season at home to Hearts to follow this week’s fixtures.
Adamant he won’t let his players get carried away by their 2-0 win over seven-on-the-trot league winners Celtic, Lennon agreed that the result, allied to the previous week’s victory against Hamilton, which ended a miserable winless run, had sent confidence soaring.
He said: “You can never be comfortable against a team of Celtic’s quality but it was a very assured performance, one I have been crying out for, for a long time. I’m proud of the team but annoyed it’s taken eight or night games to really find that level of performance again.
“However, you cannot save your performances for the big games, we have to be more consistent week in, week out. We are not getting carried away. We know how difficult and daunting a task Rangers can be and they are a different animal under Steven Gerrard.
“But we have beaten the champions and we could have won by more, not being disrespectful to Celtic. We had some fantastic passages of play, we attacked on the counter brilliantly. Our display of discipline and self-discipline off the ball was impressive. They have shown me they can do it again – that was a big scalp for us.
“It was a remarkable performance backed by a fantastic support. The players gave everything, they didn’t just run about, they played with a real verve and quality.”
And Lennon felt there were signs that a number of individuals were returning to their best including striker Flo Kamberi, who claimed his first goal since scoring at Celtic Park in October. He said: “The goal will do him the world of good.
“He played well, it was a fantastic goal. Flo likes the big games but it’s not just about big games, we need more on a weekly basis. We have a lot of faith in Flo and hopefully that will start him off.
“Steven Whittaker probably had his best game for a long time. There was a few of them, Lewis Stevenson had been off the boil for one reason or another and Stevie Mallan had a couple of pops. You could see the juices flowing again, that’s all we wanted.
“Rangers games look after themselves, but Livingston is a big game for us. The win over Celtic was maybe unexpected considering the players we had out but we go again and hopefully we’ll have the supporters right behind us again.”