Hibs boss Neil Lennon has admitted Aberdeen have set the benchmark for where he wants his team to be over the next few seasons.
The Dons have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the Premiership and will pitch up at Easter Road tomorrow joint-top of the table with champions Celtic for what is undoubtedly Scotland’s match of the day.
While conceding Derek McInnes’ side will give Hibs a stern test, Lennon has demanded that his players reproduce the form which saw them depart Celtic Park with a well-deserved 2-2 draw last time out.
He said: “Over the last three of four years, Aberdeen have been really consistent, up there challenging and in Europe. So that’s the marker for us. We would like to be in the top three or four over the next few seasons. Derek has been there for four or five years now. They have been really consistent strong. And he’s lost [Ryan] Jack [Niall] McGinn, Jonny Hayes and a few others – but they look stronger again. They had a very impressive win against St Johnstone last time out and have had an unbeaten start to the season. It’s a game we are looking forward to, but we know we are going to be really tested.”
Lennon, though, believes his team laid down their own marker as they threatened to end Celtic’s 16-month unbeaten record in domestic competition. “It was a very good team performance. We handled the environment and the circumstances really well. We played very strongly and almost won.
“So the mentality of the team is good. Now there are not excuses. That’s their marker. That’s what I know I can get from the team. That’s what they can produce so I am just looking for more of that on a consistent basis. I think we’ve improved. I think we’ve brought in some good players and they certainly showed at Celtic Park what they are capable of.”
Lennon revealed Ross Laidlaw will remain in goal having taken over from Israeli internationalist Ofir Marciano for Hibs’ past three games. Marciano became a father for the first time this week but Lennon said: “There are a few wee complications so we’ll leave the goalkeeping situation as it is.”