Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano is facing a fight to win the gloves back after stand-in Ross Laidlaw impressed boss Neil Lennon in the Israeli internationalist’s absence.
Marciano has been very much Lennon’s No.1 choice since arriving from Ashdod on a season-long loan, his performances earning him a four-year contract this summer.
His return meant Laidlaw, who himself had signed a new two-year deal, would again be Marciano’s understudy although he did make 18 appearances for the Easter Road club last season.
As such, the 25-year-old had been restricted to just one outing this season, the 6-1 Betfred Cup victory over Arbroath in late July. But Laidlaw was handed his chance after Lennon criticised Marciano for his role in both Motherwell goals as the Steelmen fought back from 2-0 down to snatch a draw in the Capital last month.
Laidlaw replaced him between the sticks for the Betfred Cup win against Livingston a few days later and he retained his place for the Premiership clash with Ross County in Dingwall, Lennon revealing he wanted to give the former Raith Rovers goalie more game time given Marciano had told him he’d be unable to play in Hibs’ next match away to champions Celtic as it clashed with Yom Kippur, the Jewish faith’s most holy day.
After watching Laidlaw pull off notable saves from County’s Michael Gardyne and Alex Schalk to ensure Paul Hanlon’s goal would not only claim three points but Hibs’ first clean sheet of the season. Lennon said: “He was very sharp as he has been in the main since he came in. He did well in midweek [against Livingston] and was excellent again today.”
Lennon again praised Laidlaw after Hibs came within 11 minutes of ending Celtic’s 16-month unbeaten run against Scottish opposition, saying after the 2-2 draw: “My back four were outstanding, as was my goalkeeper.”
Now Lennon is faced with the stark choice of retaining Laidlaw who, coincidentally, has never played in a losing side for Hibs, or Marciano having said: “We have two very good goalkeepers.”