Neil Lennon has praised his players for the way in which they have stayed top of the Championship table despite what has become an injury ravaged season.
Virtually every week since late November the Hibs boss has been faced with a lengthy casualty list with today’s crunch match against Morton at Cappielow no exception with defenders Paul Hanlon, Jordon Forster, Liam Fontaine and Callum Crane all ruled out and winger Martin Boyle is doubtful with a groin problem.
Worries, too, exist over the full fitness of skipper David Gray and midfielder Andrew Shinnie have just returned to training following their own injury problems,
Although perceived to have the strongest squad in the Championship, Lennon has twice been forced to resort to the emergency loan system, drafting in Celtic’s Kris Commons at a time when John McGinn, Fraser Fyvie and James Keatings were out of action while Efe Ambrose has been recruited to the end of the season to add to Hibs defensive options.
Dylan McGeouch, too, hasn’t had his troubles to seek but despite all those problems Lennon’s players remain nine points in front at the top of the Championship table and on course to finally secure promotion to the top flight.
Lennon said: “You know what, people keep telling me we have the best resources but we are not a million miles ahead of everyone else. We are capable, now and again, of bringing in a player from Celtic, but we are not laying out fortunes.
“The players want to come and Leeann [chief executive Dempster] does well to get deals done, but we haven’t spent any money in terms of transfer fees and, yeah, we pay decent wages but we are not a million miles away from everyone else and we don’t have a massive squad.
“We have dipped into the development team at times, not remarkably, but if you are going for the title then you do need help and you need strength and depth and we have been able to manage that okay and that’s why we are where we are and why we are in the semi-final of the cup.
“The lads have been excellent and I have said to them that everyone has made a contribution. Everyone. Some more than others but I think they can all be pretty satisfied with the contribution they have made so far and I think they should be because it is not easy winning games,
“It is certainly very difficult going the whole way. They did that last year in the cup but now we want the league. No-one is going to give it to you. You have to go and earn it. We are nearly there but it is tough.
“Falkirk are a good team, Dundee United have had their moments, Morton, and even St Mirren all of a sudden, after performing pretty poorly, are showing what they are capable of and Queen of the South had their moments at the start of the season.
“But we have done well. There’s only been about one week when we have not been top of the league. People will say ‘well you should be’ and ‘you’re expected to be there’ - but it’s harder than you think.”