Hibernian manager Neil Lennon admits he plans to redress a lack of dynamism in his side during the January transfer window and has acknowledged that Scott Allan remains on his radar.
The summer departure of Allan, who was on loan from Celtic, John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch left Lennon with the task of trying to rebuild a midfield considered among the best in the Premiership.
While newcomers Stevie Mallan, who has scored nine goals, Emerson Hyndman and Mark Milligan have all played their part this term, Lennon recognises that his engine room does not exert the same influence as it did last term.
A move for Allan next month could prove difficult given that Hibs initially repelled Celtic’s bids for McGinn before the Scotland midfielder eventually signed for Aston Villa in August. However, Lennon still admires the playmaker who is out of favour at Celtic Park.
Lennon said: “Scott’s under contract, I don’t want to start headlines. He’s a player we like, obviously, but these kinds of players cost a lot of money.
“But if there was an opportunity there we’d look at it, obviously.
“I’ll definitely look at a couple of areas which will help with the way we want to play, and try and find the right type to come in and do that.”
Hibs took four points off Celtic at Easter Road last season but Lennon, whose side attracted praise for going toe-to-toe with the Parkhead club in a 4-2 defeat in Glasgow two months ago, admits the loss of the aforementioned players has made it harder to lay a glove on the reigning champions.
He added: “Personnel changes as well, we don’t have the dynamism of some of the players we had last season so we’ll maybe adopt a slightly different approach.
“We may be forced on to the back foot and have to defend for periods in the game.
“We’ll always want to try and make things happen at the other end and try and get the balance between defending well and upsetting Celtic in certain areas.
“We’ve got to be very mindful with Celtic coming in great form and they’re a formidable team at any point during the season, but I think psychologically the games look after themselves in terms of their own personal motivation for it.”
Lennon was less than impressed with referee Don Robertson’s performance in the defeat to Celtic in October, describing it as “abysmal” and claiming his side were playing against “12 men”.
Hearts counterpart Craig Levein made similar comments about the match officials’ performance in his side’s recent controversial 2-1 loss to Rangers, with his outspoken remarks prompting the Scottish FA to call a January summit to discuss introducing video assistant referees (VAR).
Lennon admits he would be in favour of such a move.
He added: “It’s still down to the referee’s interpretation but it gives the referee added support.
“I thought it worked well at the World Cup on a lot of occasions, the only bemusing one was the handball in the final itself [Croatia’s Ivan Perisic was penalised inside the box] and that’s probably down to the referee’s interpretation, which still doesn’t take away the responsibility from the referee.
“There were a lot of incidents in the World Cup when I thought, ‘that needs to be amended’ and they looked at it, amended it, and the right decision was made.
“It might take away all the shenanigans in penalty-boxes as well.”
Asked about the standard of refereeing this season, Lennon said: “All right. I haven’t had many complaints.
“The ‘12 men’ remark was tongue-in-cheek, though I did find it remarkable in the corresponding fixture that in 15 minutes Celtic concede a free-kick.
“They did from where I was standing. So that was my only real bone of contention that day.”