Neil Lennon feared Dylan McGeouch injuries were psychological

Neil Lennon offers some advice to Dylan McGeouch at training. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
Neil Lennon offers some advice to Dylan McGeouch at training. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
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Neil Lennon has revealed he held candid talks with Dylan McGeouch in a bid to ensure he did not fritter away a promising career, with the Hibernian head coach admitting that he feared the injury woes which have hampered the mercurial playmaker were partly psychological.

Neil Lennon has revealed he held candid talks with Dylan McGeouch in a bid to ensure he did not fritter away a promising career, with the Hibernian head coach admitting that he feared the injury woes which have hampered the mercurial playmaker were partly psychological.

Lennon spotted McGeouch’s natural gift before most, handing the player his debut as a fresh-faced youngster against Motherwell when he was manager of Celtic in November 2011.

On just his second appearance for the Glasgow giants, he scored the remarkable solo goal against St Mirren which truly underlined his potential.

However, fitness concerns have come to characterise McGeouch career over the past few seasons. He has endured issues with his pelvis, groin, hamstring and ankle and is yet to start more than 24 games in a single season. Touch wood, that will change this term.

The 24-year-old, who joined the capital club from Celtic in 2014, has looked fit, strong and has been a stand-out performer in a fine Hibs side, having consulted a specialist in the summer.

“I did fear he wouldn’t reach his potential,” said Lennon. “There were times here at Hibs when I had him in and had a few stern words with him. I didn’t want the game leaving him behind, because he is too good a player for that to happen. He is more robust now, training every day and training intensely. He wasn’t doing that last season.

“He went to see a specialist to get to the bottom of the issue [and] has not missed a day’s training. Whereas before he would maybe train once or twice a week or, at times, come off in the middle of a session feeling something.

“I was worried it was psychological more than physical. I’m not saying he was doing it deliberately but he has got to the bottom of it now and we are seeing the best of him.”

There was a collective intake of breath from the supporters at Easter Road during their 2-1 win over Dundee last weekend when McGeouch fell to the turf clutching his hamstring. “Not again,” being the overriding fear among the Hibees.

“I didn’t feel that,” said Lennon. “In the past I’d have been thinking ‘not again’. This time I’m thinking it was probably just fatigue – and it turns out that’s the case.

“He has not been flagging things up in training or in games. I’m not saying he wasn’t genuinely injured before, I think it just might have been psychological. This time, he just knew it wasn’t right and I trust him on that.

“That’s another thing, he has gained my trust which he probably didn’t have that last year. He has done that through his own hard work and performances.

“He has always had the talent and now he is making the most of it,” continued Lennon. “With the form he is in, he is unlucky not to have been given a shout for Scotland. He is driving the game for us, taking the ball under pressure, riding challenges. He is just silky. He makes the game look easy.”

Given his evident admiration for the player, it is little surprise that Lennon is already seeking to get the wheels in motion for a contract extension.“That’s something that is high on the agenda and we will be talking to him,” confirmed Lennon. “It’s in the pipeline.”