Ofir Marciano welcomes Scott Bain challenge for Hibs No 1 spot

Ofir Marciano takes a break at Hibs' Algarve training camp. Picture: SNS.
Ofir Marciano takes a break at Hibs' Algarve training camp. Picture: SNS.
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His team-mates may have been cursing Scott Bain as the Dundee goalkeeper staged a one-man show of defiance to win his side a point, but at the other end of the Dens Park pitch, Ofir Marciano was applauding the performance of his opposite number which won him the man-of-the-match award and praise from both Hibs boss Neil Lennon and his own gaffer Neil McCann.

Little did he think that day back in August that he and Bain would again find themselves rivals, this time fighting over the No 1 spot at Easter Road, with Bain snapped up by Lennon on loan after 
Marciano’s understudy Ross Laidlaw suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

Scott Bain made his Hibs debut against Excelsior Rotterdam on Tuesday. Picture: SNS.

Scott Bain made his Hibs debut against Excelsior Rotterdam on Tuesday. Picture: SNS.

Bain surprisingly found himself surplus to requirements on Tayside after a bust-up with McCann, that remains something of a mystery to outsiders, resulted in the Edinburgh-born goalie being frozen out at Dens. Delighted to have found himself at Easter Road, Bain has already insisted he wants to make Hibs’ gain Dundee’s loss, a clear signal to Israeli internationalist Marciano that he hasn’t simply signed up to warm the bench.

Marciano has found himself on the sharp end of Lennon’s tongue a couple of times this season. The Hibs boss criticised the goals he lost as Motherwell came back from 2-0 down to snatch a draw before branding him “unprofessional” for his part in Rangers 
scoring twice in the space of three minutes.

Marciano, however, 
professes to being unfazed by such withering criticism, while welcoming the renewed 
competition he now faces for the gloves.

Adamant any talks he may or may not have had with Lennon will remain private, he said: 
“I like to keep these conversations inside the dressing room and not for the press, but if he decides to say things, I respect that.

“I have self-confidence and I know when I make mistakes and I know what to do to correct them. Hopefully I will make less mistakes. When you make mistakes in the Premiership you are punished more than in the Championship, but that is part of football when you move up a level.

“As a professional I take every game seriously and stay switched on all the time.

“It sounds like I am my own biggest critic? Yes, it’s the best way to make sure you give your best performance. You need to criticise yourself. All the world can criticise you and it doesn’t go in. But when you go to sleep at night you have to ask if you did your best, if you can do 
better. This is what I try to do every day, to be better. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I try.

“As a goalkeeper you get punished for every mistake you make. It’s not like a striker who can miss goals then score one and nobody remembers the misses. But that responsibility is part of the job and a goalkeeper just has to accept that.”

On arriving at Easter Road, Bain revealed he felt his display as Dundee held Hibs to a 1-1 draw may have played a part in Lennon making him his first signing of this transfer window and Marciano admitted it was certainly a performance he vividly remembers.

“He is a great guy and a great goalkeeper,” said Marciano. “When we played against Dundee earlier in the season, he was great. I was clapping him. I always clap when the goalkeeper on the other team makes a wonderful save. I know how to appreciate good saves. We had so many chances to win that game, but he made many good saves and we didn’t get the win.

“He is a good addition to the squad and the team. It’s good for the goalkeepers’ union to have a good goalie who will push us to be better.”

And as for the threat Bain might pose to his own place in Lennon’s side, the 28-year-old said: “All the way through my career I’ve always had a good relationship with the other goalkeepers. There’s a competition with Rossco, but the way I see it is I always need to prove myself.

“It’s good that I have good competition but the way I see it I always need to compete with myself. I take competition in a positive way.

“You need to show your abilities and be the best you can in every game and every training session. It doesn’t matter who the other goalies are. You just need to do your best for the sake of your career.”

Marciano has had the chance to get to know Bain and another new arrival, Australian striker Jamie Maclaren, during this week’s training camp in the Algarve, a trip he believes will pay dividends when capital hostilities resume with Hibs heading across Edinburgh for another Scottish Cup derby with arch-rivals Hearts.

He said: “It’s good to be far away from the training environment you are used to every day. It’s great for the group to be together and build something good for the second half of the season. A change of scenery is nice sometimes. It’s a good idea.

“It is very good for the new players to integrate into the squad. We have a week together and we are getting to know each other and the rest of the players.

“Scott had to get up and sing a song for his initiation into the squad. I didn’t know the song, but he is a great singer and I was applauding that as well.”

Neil Lennon expects Bain to push Marciano all the way

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon believes the signing of goalkeeper Scott Bain will sharpen up the performances of Easter Road No 1 Ofir Marciano.

The Israeli international has been on the receiving end of some stinging criticism from Lennon this season, although he has continually reiterated his faith in a player he signed on a four-year contract only a few months ago.

However, the Hibs boss acknowledged that Marciano needed renewed competition to give his game an edge following a season-ending injury to his understudy Ross Laidlaw, with Lennon moving as quickly as he could to fill the void by snapping up the out-of-favour Dundee keeper Bain.

Lennon admitted a stunning performance at Dens Park as he denied Hibs earlier in the season to earn Dundee a point had been at the forefront of his thoughts in making his move for Bain.

“We’re really pleased with that one,” he said. “He owes me two points because he was excellent at Dens Park when we played them up there.

“We needed a goalkeeper in and we have got one of a really good standard. He got man of the match that day, he kept Dundee in it with some really good saves.”

Bain made his Hibs debut in an impromptu match against Dutch side Excelsior Rotterdam on Tuesday, the two clubs taking advantage of the fact they are based close to each other in the Algarve this week to arrange the game at short notice.

Marciano, however, will be between the sticks as Hibs face another team from Holland, Willem II, today but Lennon revealed he expects Bain to be pushing his first-choice goalkeeper all the way. Lennon, pictured, who had been left with only untried 19-year-old Polish keeper Kevin Dabrowski as cover for the last couple of months, said: “Scott played really well the other day, even though it was just a bounce game. He’s a good type and obviously there’s a familiarity with the game here as well.

“He’s an Edinburgh boy so he has cut down his travelling time as well. So I think he is pleased with the move as well.

“It will give Ofir some extra impetus knowing he has real completion. He had competition with Ross, but Ross’s injury curtailed that a bit.

“Now he has competition again and the two of them should push each other on.”

“Obviously Ross had to go for surgery and a goalkeeper is a very specialist area, so we needed another keeper in because Kevin [Dabrowski] is still very much a development keeper.”

This week’s friendly with Excelsior also saw defender Liam Fontaine, who has been the subject of interest from an unnamed English club, return to action after a second serious ankle injury earlier in the

season.

Lennon said: “Liam only had one hour of a development game and came through this one unscathed, which is a big boost for us.

“He had a really bad injury last few months of last season and then similar injury on the other side (ligament coming away from the bone in the ankle) had a long time not playing. “It’s like having a new player in the building, giving us

competition and balance at centre-half.”.However, Lennon will be without both Steven Whittaker and Brandon Barker for the Willem II match as the pair fight to be fit for the Scottish Cup derby against Hearts a week on Saturday, the right-back having suffered from a pelvic problem while the on-loan Manchester City winger picked up a knee injury at Tynecastle only a few weeks ago as the Capital sides fought out a 0-0 draw.

He said: “Brandon has not trained yet. We are hoping to get him training on Monday and Steven is still feeling the effects of the injury, but we’re hoping to get him out next week as well.

“Today’s game will keep the rest of the squad ticking over in terms of football, but we’re very pleased with the way things have gone.

“We used everyone in the last game, but now we’ll be looking more towards thinking about the week after.”