Neil Lennon: Hibs’ Euro build-up disrupted by hotel setback

Neil Lennon at Edinburgh Airport before flying out to Greece. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Neil Lennon at Edinburgh Airport before flying out to Greece. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Hibernian manager Neil 
Lennon insists the travel and accommodation disruption for the trip to Greece is far from ideal, but stopped short of accusing Asteras Tripolis of any underhand tactics.

Following the drama of Hibs officials having to source another plane just 12 hours before Tuesday’s departure, Lennon last night also revealed how the club’s hotel booking was cancelled last weekend, with no explanation given.

The late switch means some of Lennon’s backroom staff are now unable to stay with the rest of the group.

There was also a further twist when the new hotel 
suffered a brief power cut 
yesterday.

The former Celtic manager was speaking as he faced the media ahead of this evening’s clash with Tripolis at the Theodoros Kolokotronis stadium, where the Leith outfit will attempt to defend the 3-2 lead from last week’s second qualifying round first-leg victory.

Despite the off-field difficulties, the 47-year-old insists his team will be ready for the game as Hibs endeavour to successfully negotiate successive European ties for the first time since 1973.

Lennon said: “We had a hotel booked and it was cancelled over the weekend, so we had to change hotel very quickly.

“Some of my staff are in a 
different hotel but the players and main core are in the same one. You can make your own assumptions from that.

“The hotel situation meant it was more work for the travel operator and then the flight was cancelled as well, which again is a bit sort of dubious but we’ve had a good couple of days.

“I’m not going to use it as an excuse but it’s not been ideal.”

Lennon presided over a light training session at the 7,500-capacity stadium last night and believes his team, who fought back from two goals down in the first leg, will need to find the net in Greece.

He added: “We know a goal for them changes the complexion of the tie but not in a major way. We still feel we’ll have to score at some stage in the game.

“Even if they score first the tie’s still very much there for us. We have to be positive – we could go out and kill the tie off first-half if we need to.

“It would be good for us if it was a bit blood and thunder. We like those blood and thunder type of games. The quicker the game, the higher the tempo, that will suit us.”

Lennon, meanwhile, confirmed that the club are close to signing Manchester City winger Thomas Agyepong on a season-long loan deal.

The 21-year-old Ghana internationalist has been on loan at Dutch clubs NAC Breda and FC Twente and looks set to follow in 
the footsteps of City team-mate Brandon Barker, who spent last season at Easter Road on a temporary arrangement.

Lennon, who admitted talks aimed at bringing back SV Darmstadt 98 striker Jamie Maclaren are ongoing, added: “We are just waiting on 
the paperwork as Thomas has had his medical. He’ll be with us on a year’s loan. He’s very similar to Brandon, good with both feet, quick, good end product. He’s 21 years old, so he fits the profile.”