Neil Lennon has picked up the Ladbrokes Championship Manager of the Month award for January but of more importance to the Hibernian boss was the nine points collected by his team in the three league matches contested in that period.
The first allowed them to leapfrog Dundee United and subsequent victories have seen them amass an eight-point lead over the rest of the pack as they keep moving resolutely towards an automatic return to the top flight.
Building momentum now that they have several key performers back from injury and in tip top form, the Easter Road boss saw the transfer window close without making any late signings but he insists that the squad he has at his disposal is good enough to deliver on the club’s targets.
“It has been a great month, and I just hope February is the same now,” he said. “We’re just looking to try and forge ahead again if we can. All our focus is on Ayr United, they’re the only team to beat us at Easter Road. So we’re not taking the game lightly. And it’s an opportunity before Dundee United kick off later on to extend the lead if we can and just keep putting pressure on the rest of the teams in the division.”
While the chase for Kris Commons amounted to nothing, Anthony Stokes was one of those Lennon had been hoping to enlist before the window closed. But, having missed out, he said he could not blame anyone in the Hibs hierarchy.
“I was here and to be fair to the club they did everything they could,” he added. “But we have brought in Chris Humphrey and Scott Gallagher. No-one has gone out. The only blow is losing Paul Hanlon due to the pelvic problem he has.”
The defender saw a specialist yesterday and Lennon is hopeful that he will only sit out two or three weeks.
That leaves him with a group of players he believes are capable of a successful run-in.
“We did have that period where we lost John [McGinn], Dylan [McGeouch] and Fraser [Fyvie] at the same time. They are three excellent players in our midfield and any club in the country would miss them. But having them back now has just strengthened us. Defensively we have been very good and we are not just nicking games. I felt last week we had real good control of the game, it was a real polished performance from us. I am very pleased with the overall level of performance we have shown. It is important we maintain that.
“I do think we can score more goals. I think that we should score more goals for the chances we create and the amount of possession that we have. That would be my only criticism of what we have been doing this season. Defensively we have been excellent and you would like it, as a manager, to be sitting in the dugout feeling a lot more comfortable if we could convert more of those chances. Hopefully that will come.
“I have a good squad here and they have taken us to an eight-point lead. You always look to strengthen if you can and we tried to do that but it’s not always possible so we go with what we’ve got.”