The St Mirren manager is confident of achieving a result at Tynecastle this afternoon, but spoke out to praise the efforts of the Hearts squad despite off-field distractions.
The Edinburgh club enter today’s SPL encounter following an extremely prosperous Christmas and New Year, during which they recorded four wins and a draw from five games in all competitions.
Lennon doffed his cap at such achievements amidst the uncertainty of wage delays and potential sale of the club. He also stressed that Sergio’s position was one many are envious of due to the squad and resources available at Tynecastle.
“Hearts are doing terrifically well considering their off-field problems,” Lennon told the Evening News. “They’ve consistently finished in the top six for many years, but right now they’re struggling on a number of levels. They’ve lost five home games this season altogether.
“They’ve never hidden the fact that they’re crippled with debt and I feel for Paulo at this time. He will probably be forced to lose many of his top players in the transfer window and start again with his team.
“That will give younger players the opportunity to come in and make a name for themselves, and Hearts have to be complimented on their youth system.
“A lot of managers would still be envious of what Hearts have. They’ve done really well to focus on the football of late.
“I think it hit them hard initially when they didn’t get paid, but they know they’re going to get it. The money has been coming in for them. It shows the work ethic they have that one or two of the players were prepared to go out and make ends meet for their families.
“That tells you a great deal about the individuals they have there. There’s also the good young players ready to come in and step up to the mark.”
St Mirren sit eighth in the SPL, just six points shy of fourth-placed Hearts in a congested area of the league table.
The Paisley club’s away form is impressive this season and Lennon is certain his players will provide a stern test today.
“Hearts beat us 2-0 at Tynecastle earlier in the season and we didn’t give a good account of ourselves that day,” he continued. “But we are confident and go into the game in good belief. We’ve already beaten Hibs in Edinburgh and won in Perth against a team above us in the league.
“From 13 away games in all competitions this season, we’re unbeaten in nine of them. So we’re a tough nut to crack and every team that plays us knows they’re in for a game.
“We know we have quality despite having one of the tightest budgets in the league. Our club is well run, there’s no debt and we won’t jeopardise that speculating in the transfer market. At this minute in time, are we punching above our weight? In many respects we are.”