John McGinn believes the high demands of Neil Lennon can propel Hibs to a lofty position in the Premiership next season.
The Easter Road side are returning to the top flight after a three-year absence and their head coach, who has previously won the title while in charge of Celtic, has already intimated that he views his team as genuine contenders for second place.
Lennon wasn’t slow to lambast his players whenever performances or results slipped below his expectation levels over the past year. McGinn, who was yesterday named Ladbrokes Championship player of the season, believes the Northern Irishman’s in-built craving for success can shine through in the form of a strong campaign from Hibs.
“The manager wants the best out of us,” said McGinn. “He was very hard on us throughout the year. At times he got really frustrated with us, but he knows what we can do and that’s why we are so confident we can put down a real marker next season. It’s good the manager has got that faith in us and we need to go and prove him right.”
McGinn insists Hibs are strong enough to mount a challenge for second, although he acknowledges that they will face stern competition from their traditional rivals. “Yes, I think it is realistic,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy. As expectant as the manager is, I think we are understanding that there are still good teams up there. Aberdeen have been consistently strong over the past two seasons, Rangers will rebuild, a club that size always will. And so will Hearts. They’ve got rid of a few boys and they will recruit well, but so will we. We have already got a good nucleus of players who know what it takes to get results. The manager has raised his expectation levels, but we are confident we can go and do it.”
Reflecting on being named the league sponsor’s player of the season yesterday, McGinn, who was this week selected in the Scotland squad for the World Cup qualifier against England next month, said: “I’m delighted. It’s good to get personal recognition and after achieving what we’ve achieved over the past two seasons it’s good to top it off.”