Neil Lennon has vowed to “keep my mouth shut and get on with the job” as he prepares to return to the Hibs dugout for Saturday’s clash with Aberdeen.
The head coach began the season facing touchline bans domestically and in European competition, but is now free of both.
“It must be a world record,” claimed Lennon, whose extended exile from the touchline came to an end as Hibs defeated Ross County to set up a Betfred Cup quarter-final clash with the Dons.
“It will be a novelty being back in there. It’s almost as if my season is starting. I’ll just keep my mouth shut and get on with the job I am paid to do.”
Lennon’s UEFA-imposed penalty was the result of being sent to the stand two years ago as Hibs faced Danish outfit Brondby in the Europa League in his very first match in charge of the Capital club, forcing him to watch his side’s first three games in this year’s competition from the directors’ box.
However, he was hit with a further one-game punishment and a ¤5000 fine after being accused of “coaching” from the stand by the UEFA delegates as he watched his side hammer NSI Runavik 6-1. This saw Lennon banished from the dugout for both legs of the first qualifying round tie against the team from the Faroe Islands and again when Hibs faced Greek outfit Asteras Tripolis in the next round.
Just as those bans were coming to an end – Lennon was able to take his usual place home and away against Molde of Norway – a three-match domestic ban kicked in, a one-game suspension for his “aeroplane celebration” as Hibs snatched a dramatic 5-5 draw with Rangers on the final day of last season activating a two-match suspended sentence.
Before he takes his place in the home dug-out against Aberdeen, Lennon admitted he was looking forward to getting some much-needed work done on the training ground, Hibs’ hectic schedule of playing Thursday and Sunday for the past few weeks having given him little time to do so.
He said: “We’ve not been able to do anything. You can’t work on set plays, shape and so on. We may want to be flexible in how we play, a 4-3-3, a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-3, but we have not had the opportunity to do that.
“This week the boys who have played all the games will have a few days off to get away from football. It’s been a very heavy, but very encouraging spell for them.”