Neil Lennon: I’ll be like a worried father with my Hibs stars

Neil Lennon hopes his Hibs players come back from international duty unscathed. Pic: SNS
Neil Lennon hopes his Hibs players come back from international duty unscathed. Pic: SNS
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Hibs boss Neil Lennon has revealed he’ll be “like a worried father” sitting by the phone hoping he’s not about to get a call to tell him one of his Easter Road stars has picked up a serious injury while on international duty.

The Capital club have six players away this week playing for their countries, but while delighted to see them gain such recognition, Lennon admitted that as manager there’s always a worry that injuries might be picked up while answering the call of duty.

Lennon is particularly intrigued to watch Scotland’s latest World Cup match against Lithuania unfold with Hibs Steven Whittaker and John McGinn part of Gordon Strachan’s squad while their Easter Road team-mates Vykintas Slivka and Deivydas Matulevicius have been called up by the Baltic State.

Youngsters Fraser Murray and Ryan Porteous, newcomers to Lennon’s squad this season, are currently in Serbia for a three-match tournament under new Scotland Under-19 coach Donald Park, but goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, named in Israel’s original squad for their World Cup double-header against Macedonia and Italy, didn’t make the final cut.

Lennon said: “It’s fantastic for them. It’s great for John to be called back for Scotland because he’s been in great form. I spoke to Gordon about Steven and we both admire him as a player. The only reason he probably wasn’t called up before was he was not playing on a regular basis, now he is.

“Gordon is a fan of his and it’s great recognition for him. It’s going to be interesting to see how the dynamic of the Scotland v Lithuania game works but, again, it’s very good profile for the club.

“I’m also delighted for the young lads, it’s thoroughly deserved. Ryan and Fraser have both been real stand-outs and have fitted into the first team environment very well.”

Lennon, of course, has plenty of experience of losing players to international duty from his time as Celtic manager but even so, he admitted there’s always the concern that they all return fit.

He said: “I had it ad nauseam at Celtic, sometimes the places was empty. You do sit there like a worried father waiting for the phone to ring hoping there’s no serious injury.

“You want them to go and play for their country, you want them to go and succeed. Like anything else in football, there are great experiences and low experiences. These guys have worked all their careers to be in the position to be picked for their country and I think it’s great they do go and represent their country every chance they get.”