Chris Sutton is adamant Hibs head coach Neil Lennon “won’t be caring one jot about Celtic” when the Glasgow club arrive at Easter Road this weekend looking to try and clinch the Ladbrokes Premiership title.
Victory in Leith on Saturday would secure Brendan Rodgers’ side a seventh league crown in a row as they chase a second successive treble with next month’s Scottish Cup final against Motherwell still to come.
With Hibs just three points adrift of both Rangers and Aberdeen in the race to finish runners-up, Sutton insists his former Hoops team-mate – a title winner as a player and manager at Parkhead – will only be concerned with securing three points as his team look to cap a stunning first season back in the top flight by finishing ‘best of the rest’.
“Having played with Neil, I know he is a fierce competitor and he will not be caring one jot about Celtic on Saturday,” said Sutton.
“It makes Saturday’s game really interesting as if Hibs win it gives them a real opportunity for second place. Neil will be thinking about getting his team organised and giving Celtic a good game.
“There is no point sitting in and letting the superior players Celtic have dictate the game to you. At home, the onus is on Hibs and he’ll have a go. That’s the right way to do it.”
When Lennon first revealed his hopes of claiming runners-up spot in the Premiership this season, Sutton admits he thought his old team-mate had temporarily lost his marbles.
But, as the post-split fixtures get set to begin this weekend, BT Sport pundit Sutton believes Lennon could lead the Easter Road club into second spot in the top flight for the first time since 1975.
“Neil was on a BT Sport panel beside me a year ago and was asked about his realistic aims and he said second place,” recalls Sutton.
“I was laughing inside when he said it. I thought it was absolute madness. But they are a team which has come in and over-achieved. You can look at what’s gone wrong at Rangers and Aberdeen, but Neil will be focusing on Hibs and, if they did it, it would be a remarkable achievement to finish above Aberdeen and Rangers.
“They are three points off it and it is there for them.
“There have been times when there has been frustration about performances and results, but for them to be in the mix is a big achievement. Hibs are on a good run and Neil will be looking at what happened with Aberdeen and Rangers and thinking about second.”
• BT Sport has six post-split SPFL games in four weeks, kicking off with Hibs v Celtic on Saturday 21st April from 12pm on BT Sport 1. BT Sport is where the best go head to head, bringing you live coverage of the Ladbrokes Premiership and Betfred League Cup. For more information, visit www.BT.com/sport