Neil Lennon: Don’t judge Deivydas Matulevicius on Wikipedia

Hibernian's new signing Deivydas Matulevicius. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
Hibernian's new signing Deivydas Matulevicius. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
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Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon has urged supporters not to judge Deivydas Matulevicius by his record on Wikipedia, and believes the British football public “live in a bubble” with their dismissive attitude towards other leagues.

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The Lithuania international striker became Lennon’s sixth summer recruit on Wednesday after signing a two-year contract in a move from Belgian side Royal Mouscron.

A cursory glance at the 28-year-old’s online biography suggests Matulevicius, who netted four times for Mouscron, will not be the outright goalscorer that Lennon, and particularly the fans, are looking for to fill the void left by Jason Cummings, who joined Nottingham Forest last month.

However, former Celtic manager Lennon insists the 6ft 3in player will offer a physical presence to his attack in the same way that former Norwich City player Grant Holt did last term.

Lennon, whose side take on Ross County this evening in their second Betfred Cup clash, said: “I’m really pleased with David. We’ve basically been looking at him since we came in. When we knew he was going to become available then we pushed the button.

“He’s a target man and he’s mobile. I wouldn’t say he’s prolific but if he was then he certainly wouldn’t be coming to play in Scotland with the attributes that he has.

“Anyone can go by Wikipedia pages and a lot of fans tend to do that, then make a decision on someone based on that. Wikipedia can hide a multitude of sins.

“I hope people judge him on his all-round game because what we’ve seen, we’ve liked.

“For the wages we pay, we also have to take that into consideration as well. He’s got good experience and he’s played at a very high level.

“I played with some really good ‘big’ strikers – like [Emile] Heskey, [Chris] Sutton, [John] Hartson – and they can make the difference at the top end of the pitch at times if you can’t get out or you’re being outplayed by teams.

“Grant Holt did a great job for me last year with his experience, know-how and physicality and we hope David will add the same sort of qualities.”

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While some fans may be less than enamoured by the pedigree of the 33-times capped Matulevicius, Lennon insists his career will have been enriched by spells of playing in his homeland, Romania, Poland and Kazakhstan. The manager added: “We live in a bubble. There are a lot of good teams in Eastern Europe and a lot of good individual players.

“He has played in Romania. He has played in Belgium at quite a high standard.

“Sometimes we dismiss these leagues because we are in a bubble here in Britain.

“There are actually good-quality players out there. He has played 30-odd times for his country. We’ve brought a player at his peak who has vast experience of playing around Europe. The Scottish league will not worry him.

“We certainly can’t be dismissive of these countries and I know from my own experience that there are good players out there.”

While Lennon was pleased to conclude a deal for Matulevicius out of the public domain, the same cannot be said for the club’s much-publicised pursuit of Blackburn Rovers striker Anthony Stokes.

Asked about the Irishman, Lennon, who refuted Wales striker Simon Church’s claim that he was was offered a deal, added: “No comment at all. I don’t know what the situation is with Anthony regarding Blackburn.

“He’s their player. We’re linked with a lot of players. A lot of stuff comes out of here that shouldn’t come out.

“That’s why it was pleasing to get David over the line in a non-fussy sort of way.

“I can’t keep commenting on speculation. You all know that we’re interested in certain players but until they’re in the building and signed then I can’t give a definitive answer on anyone.”

Lennon is still keen to reinforce his striking options but Simon Murray hopes he is in pole position to start the Premiership season as the team’s recognised striker after scoring two goals in the 4-0 Betfred Cup victory over Montrose.

He said: “If you are playing well and scoring goals it’s in your own hands.

“The manager picks the team but he is going to pick a striker that’s scoring goals so if I can just concentrate on the way I am playing then hopefully it will be me that he picks.”

Lennon also reported good news on the injury front yesterday, with defender Paul Hanlon set to return from a persistent pelvic injury for the development squad in Sunday’s friendly at Lowland League side Selkirk.

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