Hibernian boss Neil Lennon says the club was in a thankless position when it came to deciding whether to go ahead with this evening’s derby.
With three players on international duty, the club had the option of postponing the fixture but despite the fact he is now dealing with a long list of injuries on top of the missing Aussie trio, Lennon believes it was right to play today. “It would have been the easy thing to do to call the game off but we didn’t, so let’s just play the game,” he said.
“You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If we call this one off, do we call off Elgin and then Motherwell [after the winter shutdown] if Australia go far in the Asian Cup? If you keep postponing fixtures, you could be without a game for six weeks.”
With Lewis Stevenson and Ryan Porteous, pictured, added to an already lengthy injury list some fans believe the club blundered in pressing forward with the capital clash but while Lennon branded hindsight a wonderful thing, he reminded supporters that there is no guarantee the squad would have been in rude health come any rescheduled date.
“The game could have been rearranged for January, February, March, whenever and we could have a raft of injuries then as well.
“If we lose the game, we lose it. It won’t be because we did not call it off, it will be because Hearts played better or we didn’t play as well as we can. It is down to us now. But I don’t want to dwell on it as the decision was made a couple of weeks ago.
“We had discussions about it and some felt it would be a good idea to call it off and some didn’t. But it is the time of year when people are coming for holidays and from all over the world for the game. It is a marquee game in our season and I think we should play it.”
He also said it would send out a negative vibe to the available players if they shied away from welcoming Hearts as planned.
“What message does it send to the rest of the squad if we call the game off because three players are missing?” said Lennon. “Sorry we can’t play without these three or we are not good enough to beat whoever at home?
“We have players who have played at a very high level and we beat Celtic without the three Aussies at home. There are plenty of reasons to think we can perform against Hearts. Ideally we would like them here but the decision was taken out of our hands so we get on with it and play. That is what we are here for.”