International break will help Hibs players, claims Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon
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Hibs boss Neil Lennon doesn’t believe the international break will wreck the momentum which his Easter Road side have been building, claiming a weekend off will serve his players well ahead of their crucial match against Aberdeen.

Lennon confessed to being “delighted” as the Capital outfit’s performance as they almost brought Celtic’s 16-month unbeaten run in domestic competition to an end following a win away to Ross County and the clinching of a place in the semi-final of the Betfred Cup.

But, he insisted, he isn’t worried about the rhythm of a team which is now six games unbeaten being disrupted. Adamant the international break hasn’t come at the wrong time, he said: “I think it is always good. Some of the players can get a rest and recover.

“We are in good form obviously, but I do not think this will have too much of an impact on our next game.”

Lennon will give his players the weekend off after training sessions today and tomorrow and he said: “It’s always beneficial. We have had a lot of games since the start of the season. It isn’t a major break, it’s a weekend off which gives them a chance to be with their families, to get away from football, to clear their heads and get a rest.

“But they will be back in Monday to prepare as normal for what should be another tough game.”

A matchless weekend end will, insisted Lennon, give skipper David Gray further time to recover from the hamstring injury which has seen him sit out Hibs last three matches.”

Lennon admitted he will have a slight worry over John McGinn and Steven Whittaker who are on international duty with Scotland, while Vykintas Slivka and Deivydas Matulevicius are in the Lithuanian squad for their final two World Cup qualifying games.

But expressing the hope all four return fit and healthy at the beginning of next week, he told Hibs TV: “It’s always good for the profile of the club to have players away playing for their country and hopefully they are successful in their endeavours.

“I’m delighted Steven and John have been called up, they both been in great form for us and were outstanding against Celtic which will boost their confidence.

“The Lithuanian boys were very disappointed in the last round of games, beaten at home by Scotland and then a poor result in Slovenia. But England at Wembley is a great game for them to get their teeth into. Hopefully they play and play well.”

• Hibs Under-20s went down 2-1 at home to Falkirk in the SPFL Development League. The Bairns went 2-0 up thanks to goals from Conor Langton and a Myles Hippolyte penalty and although Oli Shaw scored a spot-kick of his own after Paul Watson was sent off for the visitors, the young Hibees could not find an equaliser.