Lewis Stevenson is the kind of guy who is happiest when the spotlight is casting its glow on someone else.
Whether it is deflecting praise for his recent £40,000 donation to charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) from his testimonial fund, claiming it is the fans who paid to attend the events who deserve the plaudits, or talking up team-mates he says have been vital to Hibernian’s recent form, he is content to remain in the background.
The full-back, who has survived the lows and is loving the highs at a club he has served for more than a decade, has been one of the first names on Neil Lennon’s teamsheet this term.
But it is the midfielders who have been credited with a major role in recent results. Having cast aside the injuries that have curtailed him in the past, Dylan McGeouch has been a consistently high performer, while John McGinn has recovered from a slight dip in his own lofty standards at the end of the year and is back to turning in the kind of displays that earned Scotland call-ups and attracted the attention of other clubs north and south of the Border. Add to that equation new recruit Scott Allan and they have proved a formidable threat.
As the team bettered both Rangers and Aberdeen in the past two games, moving to within five points of second place in the Premiership table, the praise for the men pulling the strings in the middle of the park has been constant. Stevenson says he can understand why.
“They have been stealing the show and quite rightly so. They have been getting the plaudits because they are unbelievable players and unbelievable professionals and they are a pleasure to work with,” said Stevenson. “They make our job as defenders a lot easier and we feel like we are playing with ten players in midfield such is the way they control it.”
But the success is the sum of the parts, according to Hibs manager Neil Lennon, who said he was delighted with every one of his players as they put Aberdeen to the sword last weekend. Stevenson remains self-deprecating, downplaying his long ball in the build-up to one of those goals. “You mean me hoofing it? Yeah, there is a bit of confidence in the squad and we know we have been playing well.”
They will need to maintain those standards as they head to Rugby Park to face form side Kilmarnock today. They won 3-0 on their last trip to Killie but the Hibs full-back says that scoreline flattered them and the fact it was 1-1 in the recent meeting in Leith underlines the difficulty of the task.
“We have done well against Rangers and Aberdeen which people will think of as big games but this one is going to be just as tough. We just focus on week to week. We do want to qualify for Europe and we are in a good position to do that. But there are lots of points to play for and things can change.”
Meanwhile, Jordan Jones has vowed to stay loyal to Kilmarnock after the club rejected advances for the winger in January.
The 23-year-old Northern Ireland international, pictured, was the subject of a bid from Rangers, which was swiftly rejected, and is rumoured to be of interest to clubs in the Championship in England.
Jones said: “When I left Middlesbrough [in 2016] I wasn’t wanted by any teams at all. I would never go to the club and ask to leave because so and so have been mentioned.
“This club helped me out so there is no way I’d be rushing out. My performances dipped in December solely because of that. Next time I will know how to handle it a bit better.
“Since the transfer window shut, I sat down with the gaffer [Steve Clarke] and I couldn’t be in a better place to play my football and couldn’t be learning from anyone better in Scotland.”