Neil Lennon happy at Hibs – but would be open to Scotland talks

Hibs boss Neil Lennon is happy at Easter Road but the task of leading Scotland is an appealing one
Hibs boss Neil Lennon is happy at Easter Road but the task of leading Scotland is an appealing one
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Hibs manager Neil Lennon would be open to talking to the SFA if he was approached regarding the vacant Scotland job.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers, speaking at his media briefing on Thursday, described his Easter Road counterpart as “a great fit” for the national team after number one choice Michael O’Neill turned down the chance to succeed Gordon Strachan earlier this week.

“There have been a number of guys touted for the job, but for me Lenny has to be the one,” said Rodgers.

Although Lennon is content in his role at Easter Road, where he is contracted until 2020, it is understood that he would be willing to talk to the SFA if they saw him as a contender.

Lennon was, understandably, reluctant to discuss the Scotland vacancy in any great depth yesterday, but was clearly flattered that Rodgers had picked him out as the outstanding candidate ahead of today’s meeting between Celtic and Hibs in Glasgow.

“It’s very flattering. I thought he was my mate,” said Lennon jocularly in response to being placed in the awkward position of having to discuss a vacancy he hasn’t been approached about. “When you have a manager of the calibre of Brendan talking about you like that then it’s much appreciated. I’m not canvassing for the job obviously but from a personal point of view it means a lot (Rodgers’ comments).”

Although his fellow Northern Irishman O’Neill snubbed the chance to take the reins, Lennon is adamant the Scotland job remains an attractive one. “Look, I’m not here to talk about the Scotland job because it’s unfair,” he said. “I’m the Hibs manager, I know the job’s available but there’s been no contact and I’m sure they’ve got umpteen contenders for the job.

“I think it’s a very good job. The only criticism of it is that I would not have changed Gordon. Progress was being made. I understand his remit was to qualify for a tournament but there was definite progression in the team. Michael has turned the job down now but that happens. We’ve seen that at big clubs where the number one contender doesn’t take the job for different reasons and I’m sure there’s many candidates who would like to take the job on.”

Lennon has previously implied that he is more suited to the ongoing intensity of club management than the international scene, but he suggested yesterday that he would be of a mind to entertain taking charge of a national team at some point. “It’s something that I’ve not given much consideration too,” he said. “The day-to-day stuff (of club management) I enjoy, but the more you think about it, you think ‘well, maybe at some stage it might be something that tickles your fancy’. Again, I’m not here to talk about the Scotland job, I’m here to talk about a very difficult game against Celtic.”

Lennon was keen to stress that he is happy at Easter Road and in no rush to leave a post which has given him significant job satisfaction over the past year and a half.

“I’m really happy – I took a bit of a calculated risk to take this job on, but I knew we could take it places and thankfully that’s the way it’s panned out so far,” he said. “I’m 18 months into the job and there’s still a lot of work to be done but we’re very happy. I’m satisfied with the progress that’s being made and we’re playing a decent brand of football.”