Neil Lennon has insisted Hibs are exceeding expectations – but he still believes they should be sitting top of the Premiership table going into the latest international break.
The Easter Road outfit extended their winning run to four games on the trot – their best record in the top flight since early 2011 – with a 2-1 victory over Dundee to close in to two points behind second placed Aberdeen.
However, Lennon, pictured right, firmly believes that but for points his players let slip through their hands, the Capital club could even be ahead of six-times champions Celtic.
The head coach said: “We should have won at Dundee earlier in the season, we should have won at St Johnstone and we were 2-0 up against Motherwell. That’s six points dropped and if we had not dropped them we would be top of the table. The players are in a really good place at the moment, there’s a real belief about them and their fitness levels are excellent.”
Having said that, Lennon admitted five games in two weeks had taken a toll on his players, conceding they’d shown a bit of fatigue as Dundee striker Marcus Haber cancelled out Martin Boyle’s opener after just 63 seconds but praised the home support in the near 17,000 crowd for helping them clinch the points thanks to Simon Murray’s 13th goal of the season.
He said: “There was a real connection between the players and fans, probably the best I have experienced other than an Edinburgh derby. There was that little drop, you could see in some of the 50/50s we looked a bit leggy.
“The atmosphere was absolutely electric, the fans could see the players needed lifted and they really got behind the team. You could see what it means to the players so everyone deserves a pat on the back.”
Other than John McGinn and Paul Hanlon – on international duty as Scotland face Holland in a friendly at Pittodrie on Thursday night – Lennon will be giving his players a few days off, believing they will benefit from the break it brings to domestic football, particularly with Dylan McGeouch, David Gray and Brandon Barker joining a lengthy casualty list which already included Darren McGregor, Danny Swanson, Steven Whittaker and Liam Fontaine.
Joking his dressing room looked like “Emergency Ward 10,” and that physio Nathan Ring had his hands full, he said: “I’m not a lover of them but this time I am grateful, it will be beneficial. I’ve only got 15 fit players and if we’d had another game tonight we’d have been in big trouble.”