Neil Lennon: Third Rangers trip could derail Hibs in race for second

Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon
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Neil Lennon expects Hibs will have to return to Ibrox a third time this season – and fears it could derail their bid for second spot.

The top six make-up could be resolved tonight if Motherwell fail to beat Aberdeen.

That would leave leaders Celtic to battle it out with Rangers, Aberdeen, Lennon’s Hibs, Kilmarnock and Hearts over the final five game of the season.

But it also means SPFL chiefs will face a major headache as they set about drawing up the post-split fixtures.

Gers have already hosted each of their rivals twice this term but would be due another two home games after the split.

And Lennon fears his Leith outfit will be one of the sides sent back to Govan.

And despite having beaten the Light Blues in Glasgow twice this term, he fears a third trip could wreck their runners-up chances.

Lennon – whose team can cut Gers’ lead to just a point if they win their game in hand with Hamilton tonight – said: “I’m assuming that because we’re the lowest seeded team we will be going there for the third time.

“If that does happen it will be a major concern. It will be a major disadvantage.

“Not only for our chances of finishing second, but also from a financial point of view as we lose out on a sell-out home crowd, which I think we have earned the right to have.

“We will just have to cross that bridge when it comes to it.”

Few expected Hibs to challenge the Dons and Rangers for second place in their first season back in the top flight – even Lennon himself.

“I never envisioned we’d be this close at this point,” said the Northern Irishman ahead of hosting Accies.

“I thought the two Glasgow teams would run away with it with Aberdeen and Hearts in there behind.

“There’s no question we’re ahead of schedule. We’ve won a lot more games by this stage than I thought we would.

“We’re right in there now. We’re only four points off second with seven games to go. That’s nothing.

“It’s not going to be easy, though, as once you get past the split every game is gargantuan.

“We’re very mindful that Aberdeen are strong. They’ve been there and done it. Rangers have quality too.

“But a lot of teams are not talking about us and that suits me down to the ground.

“I’ve said to the boys that it’s their time and it’s their career. I’ve had my time but this is theirs now and they need to maximise the opportunities.

“However, they have put themselves in a very healthy position.

“We haven’t beaten Accies this year. They keep finding really important results when they need it, so they are a dangerous opponent.

“They’re battle hardened. When Martin Canning needs to get a result, more often than not they seem to get it, so we have to be on our guard.”