Hibs boss Neil Lennon wants long bans for reckless tackling

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Hibs head coach Neil Lennon. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
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Neil Lennon has called for stiffer penalties for those who deliberately attempt to hurt an opponent, claiming ill-discipline and recklessness is putting players at risk of serious injury.

The Hibernian head coach would like to see the punishment fit the crime, with the guilty players forced to sit out for the same period of time it takes those they injured to recover.

Lennon has had his own complaints about what he has seen as over-robust challenges this season and has demanded greater protection for his players and, in particular, Scotland midfielder John McGinn who he feels has taken some heavy punishment.

The Hibs boss wants players to take more responsibility and claims to have seen an increase in deliberate attempts to inflict an injury.

Citing the challenge by Ross County’s Andrew Davies on Celtic captain Scott Brown at the weekend, one which earned Davies a red card and a two-match ban which will see him miss the Premiership’s basement side’s matches against Partick Thistle tonight and Hibs on Saturday, Lennon said: “My worry is that a player ends up with a serious injury.

“We could lose a very good player in the game due to heat of the moment stuff, or someone’s ill-discipline or 
recklessness. I like the speed of the game in Scotland and I like the physicality of the game.

“I know all about tackling, I did it all through my career. But then there is deliberately going out to hurt someone. I am seeing that far too often.

“I know it’s a man’s game and all that nonsense, but you need to play within the laws. A lot of players go beyond that. They lose their emotions and get frustrated and lose their discipline. Players have been a bit reckless and that could have been a bad one for Scott at the weekend.

“But it’s not just him, John McGinn has taken some heavy punishment this season too.”

Lennon believes part of the problem is that some players simply can’t tackle. He said: “What can be done about that? Better coaching and discipline. Players need to learn to stay on their feet more.

“I’ve seen some great 50/50s, I’ve seen some great challenges. But I have also seen some horrendous ones where players have made no attempt to play the ball – just the man.

“I’ve seen it a lot here this season.”

Lennon insisted the footballing authorities must find a way to stamp out such behaviour, adamant it isn’t good for the image of the Scottish game at a time when it’s being made as attractive and entertaining as possible.

He said; “The tackle on Scott wasn’t the referee’s fault. Players have to take responsibility for their own individual actions.

“Sometimes I think that if a player goes in deliberately to hurt another player and the injured one is out for a period of time, then the person making the tackle should sit out for the same time.

“It’s not the injured player’s fault, it’s the responsibility of the individual.

“Maybe that’s going too far, but I don’t like to see these tackles, it’s not part of the game.

“It’s not big, it’s not clever and it’s not hard. It’s an easy way out.

“The Ross County player has let himself down and his team down and he’s going to miss two important games.

“It’s not good for the image of the game at all. Football is presented well and it’s made as attractive and entertaining as possible.

“Referees, in the main, are very strong with that kind of stuff.

“On Saturday the ref couldn’t do anything but send the player off. It’s just important that we stop all of that because it’s not good and it’s nothing to be proud of.”