Hibs boss: My players get no protection – it’s scandalous

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon
Hibs head coach Neil Lennon
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Hibs boss Neil Lennon has branded the lack of protection given to his players by referees as “scandalous”, describing the Easter Road dressing-room as looking like ‘Emergency Ward 10’ following their victory over Motherwell.

While delighted with the win which allowed the Capital side to tighten their grip on fourth place in the Ladbrokes Premiership, Lennon saw defender Darren McGregor and Brandon Barker, scorer of the second goal against the Steelmen, added to his injury list with both now highly doubtful for tomorrow’s match with Rangers at Ibrox.

Lennon was left less than happy with what he’d seen in a clash which resulted in three Fir Park players being booked and referee Alan Muir playing more than the indicated three minutes of added-on time as Hibs clung to their 2-1 lead.

“I don’t want to complain about referees,” he insisted, “But the amount of fouls against our players is scandalous, the lack of punishment is scandalous. I am looking for more protection. They are being kicked off the ball, bounced off it and it’s ‘play on’.

“There were things off the ball going on that the referee sees and lets go. It has to be punished otherwise it just continues and continues. We can’t get a flow to our game and the injuries are racking up.

“I’m not saying Motherwell were dirty by any means, but there were a few late things, a few over-physical challenges which the referee can stamp out very easily.”

With skipper David Gray and defender Steven Whittaker already on the casualty list, Lennon admitted injuries and a lack of preparation time for tomorrow’s match, which will be his side’s fifth in 13 days, was proving a hindrance to their ambitions.

“It’s a huge game and one to enjoy. But it’s like Emergency Ward 10 in there. We can’t do any work with them, it’s all about recovery, sleep, rest and getting them ready to go again.”

Lennon, however, believes Hibs will get a lift from the return of playmaker Scott Allan, the midfielder part of a three-way deal on transfer deadline day in which goalkeeper Scott Bain headed to Celtic and striker Simon Murray join Dundee.

He admitted it was difficult to focus entirely on the visit of Motherwell with the window due to close within a few hours. “It was really tough, you don’t know if deals are going through, who is going to be there or away. It was a difficult thing to deal with but hopefully it works out all right. But I’m very pleased to have got Scott Allan in, he’s another talented player that will make us better.”