Hibs boss Neil Lennon can't wait for January as injury woes mount
He joins Marvin Bartley, Thomas Agyepong, Harry Mavrias, Miquel Nelom, Ross Laidlaw, Ofir Marciano and Ryan Porteous on the casualty list while Australian internationalists Martin Boyle, Mark Milligan and Jamie Maclaren will also all miss the visit of the Tynecastle side after they departed for the Asian Cup.
Paul Hanlon started just his third match since the end of September at Ibrox while club captain David Gray made a second-half appearance as a substitute, his first appearance in virtually three months.
Lennon said: “We’ve lost Lewy. I don’t know for how long. We have had a lot of injuries, the squad is really depleted. I am looking forward to January because the injury list is horrendous at the minute.” Nevertheless, Lennon was delighted to see his side come from behind to claim a point from Rangers for the second game in a week, Darren McGregor’s header three minutes from time cancelling out a first-half opener from Ibrox striker Alfredo Morelos.
He said: “It’s not as if we were cut open for the Rangers goal, it was a defensive error from our point of view. We were comfortable in the game. We said at half-time we needed the midfield to play with a little bit more purpose and penetration and we got that. I thought the substitutes, Sean Mackie, Daryl Horgan and Gray made a contribution and I’m delighted to have Gray back.”
McGregor’s goal stretched Hibs’ unbeaten run to six matches, three of which were against Rangers and Celtic, but four of them were draws.
Lennon added: “We went seven without a win and now six without defeat which shows our inconsistency in this first half of the season, but it’s been difficult with the amount of injuries we have picked up. But we played well today.”
Lennon was also happy with the performance of Florian Kamberi after his fierce criticism of the Swiss striker’s lack of effort earlier in the week.
“I had a long chat with him. We have a lot of faith in Flo. He’s not been producing that sort of performance. There was a different body language, physicality, and in his hold-up play he has to be that week in week out for us to evolve as a team.
“We are evolving. We lost a lot of good players in the summer and it takes time for them to gel.”
Now, agreed Lennon, Hibs can approach the final game of 2019 with morale high. He said: “It’s a confidence booster at any time to come here with Rangers in a title race, and to take points off them was important having played so well at Easter Road last week. We have played very well today so I am pleased.”
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard was less so, saying: “We led for the majority of the game but I thought we shot ourselves in the foot by not killing the game off. I felt we were on our way to a scrappy win without playing amazing football.
“We got ourselves into a healthy position but when you don’t kill a game off it sometimes comes back to punish you.”