Neil Lennon orders extra shooting practice for Hibs strikers

Hibernian striker James Keatings has revealed head coach Neil Lennon has laid on extra shooting practice this week in a bid to get the capital club '¨firing again.
James Keatings is convinced it is just a matter of time before the Hibs goals are flowing again. Picture: SNS.James Keatings is convinced it is just a matter of time before the Hibs goals are flowing again. Picture: SNS.
James Keatings is convinced it is just a matter of time before the Hibs goals are flowing again. Picture: SNS.

The Easter Road outfit have endured a frustrating sequence of results, failing to win any of their last five fixtures, albeit three draws in that time have proved enough to send them to the top of the Championship.

Goals have also become scarce for Lennon’s men, who scored 14 times in his first six domestic games at the helm. In the subsequent six outings, Hibs have found the net just four times.

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Jason Cummings, despite scoring eight goals this term, has not troubled the scoresheet in four matches, while Keatings, Grant Holt and Brian Graham have four between them all season.

It is a fact not lost on an “intense” Lennon, who has sought to remedy the issue on the training ground this week.

“As a striker, you want to be scoring goals. When the team’s not scoring, it’s us people look at,” conceded Keatings. “We’re trying our hardest, so hopefully chances start falling our way and we can start taking them.

“We’re just going through one of those patches in front of goal, but we all believe it will click in one game and that’ll be us off and running again.

“We train hard all week. It’s always intense, and the gaffer [Lennon] adds different things in. Neil is a demanding manager. He wants us to train and play our best every single day. He’s always been like that, and that’s the way the boys like it.

“He’s added a bit of striker movement and finishing this week and, when you see the boys finishing, it’s just a matter of time before that starts happening on the pitch.”

Dunfermline striker Farid El Alagui reports that former Hibs team-mate John McGinn was the first to congratulate him when he got off the mark for the Pars.

But the French-Moroccan insists he would love to send the Scotland midfielder and his old club back across the Forth empty-handed following this afternoon’s clash at East End Park.

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El Alagui was restricted to only 21 appearances during two injury-plagued seasons at Easter Road before being freed by new head coach Neil Lennon during the summer.

But during his time at Hibs, El Alagui struck up lasting friendships with team-mates such as playmaker McGinn.

The towering marksman, however, says he would have no qualms about upsetting his friends today.

He said: “It’s always a special game to go up against a former club and it will be an interesting one.I know a lot of the people there but we will need to stay focused to try and get something out of it because we need to pick up points.

“I’m still in touch with the boys at Hibs. I will have to give a special mention to John McGinn because he is a great guy. He is a great footballer but he is also a good man – really down to earth.

“He’s always nice, when I scored my first goal against St Mirren last month, he texted me after the game to congratulate me. He was the first one to do that. It just shows you what he’s like as a person. I also speak to Liam Fontaine; you keep in touch.

“But hopefully it will be the scenario that I score the winning goal on Saturday. I would be delighted if I manage to.”

The Pars remain third bottom in the Championship and El Alagui, who has scored four goals in as many games, concedes they face a stern test against leaders Hibs.

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He added: “When you look at the opposition team you try to find their weaknesses but when you look at Hibs, there are not many weaknesses.

“They have great players in every area and are strong. You have to be at your best and we’ll try to do that.

“Hibs always bring a good away crowd, it’s a short trip for them and our fans here will enjoy this game as well. It will be a great crowd and we have to make sure we don’t disappoint them and show we are a good team.

“We need to get back up the league because just now we are not where we want to be.”