Neil Lennon open to talks over Scotland manager vacancy

Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon would be interested'¨in speaking to the Scottish FA about the vacant national team manager's position.

Neil Lennon's stance on the Scotland vacancy is believed to have softened. Picture: SNS.
Neil Lennon's stance on the Scotland vacancy is believed to have softened. Picture: SNS.

Lennon declined to comment on whether the post would be appealing to him yesterday but it is understood that, privately, the former Celtic boss would be receptive to meeting with Hampden officials should the SFA identify him as a suitable candidate.

The search for a successor
to Gordon Strachan, who departed the job last October following the failure to reach this summer’s World Cup finals, is continuing after No 1 target Michael O’Neill opted to remain with Northern Ireland.

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When Strachan’s contract was not renewed after two unsuccessful qualifying attempts, Lennon, at 46 years old, made it clear he was not interested in international management, but it is thought his stance has softened.

Ahead of Hibs’ trip to Parkhead today, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers urged the SFA to pursue Lennon.

Asked about that at his 
pre-match media conference
yesterday, former Northern
Ireland midfielder Lennon
said: “It’s very flattering,” before adding in jest: “I thought he was my mate.”

“When you have a manager
of the calibre of Brendan talking about you like that, it’s much appreciated.

“I’m not canvassing for the job obviously but, from a personal point of view, it means a lot. I’m the Hibs manager, I know the job’s available but there’s been no contact and I’m sure they’ve got umpteen contenders for the job.

“I think it’s a very good job. Michael has turned the job down now but that happens.

“We’ve seen that at big clubs where the number one contender does not take the job for different reasons and I’m sure there are many other candidates who would like to take the job on. It’s something I’ve not given much consideration to. The day-to-day stuff I enjoy but the more you think about it, maybe at some stage 
it might be something that tickles your fancy.”

Lennon, who led Hibs to the Championship title last season before signing a new three-year contract in September 2017, added: “I’m really happy, I took a bit of a – I wouldn’t say gamble, but a calculated risk – to take this job on but I knew we could take it places and thankfully that’s the way it’s panned out so far. I’m 18 months into the job and there’s still a lot of work to be done but we’re very happy… well. I’m satisfied with the progress that’s being made.”

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Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke played down his own link with the Scotland job.

The 54-year-old – Ladbrokes Premiership manager of the month for December after an impressive start to his Killie reign – says he is focusing on his current post.

He said: “You get quoted because I’m up here and I’m in the public eye in Scotland.

“I was asked about it 12 weeks ago or so when I first came back up here. But I came here to work for Kilmarnock and I’m happy here now.”