Much has been said about Hibernian’s triumphant trip to Ibrox last week but not enough of it has focused on how well his players performed, according to Neil Lennon.
The Easter Road manager was thrilled by his players’ ability to cope with the occasion and all the heightened emotion as things got feisty. They kept their head and bounced back from losing an early goal, ultimately going on to win 3-2. He is not ready to get carried away with the way things are going just yet.
He had said before the Rangers match that it was too early in the season to draw any conclusion, regardless how the game panned out but he is, undoubtedly, pleased with the way his men have kicked off their return to the top flight.
Back in the Premiership after a three-season absence, they won the first game against last term’s surprise package, Partick Thistle, then followed it up with three points in Govan. But tomorrow’s visit by Hamilton may give the capital boss a clearer indication of his players’ character and chances of living up to his expectations over the course of the campaign.
“It has been a great start. I cannot ask any more,” he said. “We are scoring goals, we have won games but that could all change on Saturday against Hamilton. They are a Premiership team and I hope there will not be a psychological dip after the last two games. I think the crowd will buoy the team and spur them on. We have to be wary of the Hamilton match but there is plenty of experience in the team to avoid that and it is my job to make sure that we are focused.
“We don’t have the right to treat Hamilton any differently. We are the newly promoted team and still finding our feet in this league. Hamilton have been doing it for the past four years with limited resources and doing it well. They have earned the right to be in this league and we have to earn the right to go and beat them.”
The last time they met on league duty, Hamilton relegated the Leith side and it has been a long road back. But dealing with setbacks and finding a way to eventually overcome them has become part of the deal.
In the first two league games they have overhauled a deficit and the manner of those victories is encouraging, according to Lennon. “It shows character in the team. Saturday was a real test and I thought we handled it very well.”
They will be buoyed by the arrival of Brandon Barker, whose loan from Manchester City was finalised last night.
The left winger, who has represented England at youth level, has had loan spells at Rotherham and NAC Breda, but is relishing a fresh adventure in the Scottish top flight.
“It feels great and I can’t wait to get playing football again,” said the 20-year-old. “It’s a great club and a great city.
“The manager said that it is a good place for me to come and carry on learning my trade and that it is a great platform for me to come and show everyone what I can do. He believes in me, so hopefully I can make everyone else believe in me.”
Lennon has been monitoring the youngster’s career for a while and believes he can be a real asset as Hibernian target a lofty finish in the league.
“I watched him in under-21 games with Man City. He was exceptional as a youth and I tried to get him in when I was at Bolton.” Which is why Lennon jumped at chance to bring him to Hibernian.
“We were looking for someone to complement Martin Boyle and there was room to get someone else in
“When his name cropped up we moved very quickly on it. He is a very good player and I hope he showcases his talent. This is a very good environment for him and a very good fit for him. He is a very exciting talent and he can eliminate people and I think he has a goal in him and he is quick so I think needs regular football and he will be challenging to get that here.
“I want to send him back to Man City a better and more experienced player. His job is to contribute to the team and be successful.”