Hibs boss to stick by keeper Ofir Marciano despite blunder

Ofir Marciano apologises for his mistake at Hamilton's goal on Tuesday
Ofir Marciano apologises for his mistake at Hamilton's goal on Tuesday
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Hibs boss Neil Lennon will stick by Ofir Marciano for Saturday’s match against Ross County despite the goalkeeper’s blunder gifting Hamilton the opening goal on Tuesday evening.

Marciano had missed last weekend’s win over Partick Thistle having been suspended following his red card at McDiarmid Park a fortnight earlier, but was recalled for the visit of Accies after his understudy Cammy Bell was ruled out with a calf strain.

However, the Israeli internationalist was badly at fault only nine minutes into the game, spilling an innocuous cross to allow Hamilton striker Marios Ogkmpoe to put his side ahead.

A hat-trick from Florian Kamberi spared Marciano’s blushes as Hibs ran out 3-1 winners to again turn up the heat on Aberdeen and Rangers in the race for second place in the Premiership table. Admitting Marciano looked “a bit rusty”, Lennon defended his No.1, saying: “He has made a mistake. He only played for ten or 15 minutes at St Johnstone and was then away on international duty. He just looked like he needed the game, but I have no worries about him. Ofir has been tremendous for me this season. He’s earned us about ten or 12 points. He held his hand up, these things happen. Luckily, it was early enough in the game and we had plenty of time to recover.”

Lennon will hand John McGinn an immediate return to action in the Highlands following his two-match ban.

The Scotland midfielder will be available for the trip to Dingwall and Lennon made it clear he won’t have to wait to reclaim his place in the Easter Road side, saying: “He will get back in all right. It’s great to have a squad that can cope without a player of his calibre. He’s been in superb form and will be champing at the bit to play.

“It will be good to have him back. We’ve missed his drive at times – but any team would.”

Lennon revealed that with Steven Whittaker having started his first match in some four months during the week and Lithuanian midfielder Vykintas Slivka fit enough to have taken a seat on the bench for the wins over Thistle and Hamilton, his squad is likely to get a further boost with on-loan Manchester City winger Brandon Barker set to make the trip north. Barker has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since limping out of the 2-1 victory against Rangers at Ibrox two months ago.

Lennon has warned his players they’ll face a difficult match against the Staggies after they lifted themselves off the foot of the table, albeit on goal difference, by beating Partick 4-0.

He said: “It was a great result for them, one which was probably much-needed. But it shows they have the ability to do that and it will lift their confidence.”

However, Lennon insisted his own side have “the bit between their teeth” after making it eight matches unbeaten, telling Hibs TV: “We are not taking anything for granted, but it’s one more game before the split which could put us in a really good position.”