Neil Lennon: Aberdeen hold 'no fear' for buoyant holders Hibernian

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland
Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon says his Hibernian players are determined to hold on the Scottish Cup
Scottish Cup semi-final: Hibernian v Aberdeen
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Saturday 22 April Kick-off: 12:15 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland & online; commentary on BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Sport website

Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon insists Saturday's Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen holds "no fear" for his players.

Championship winners Hibs dramatically ended a 114-year wait to win the competition last May at Hampden.

They continue the trophy defence against League Cup finalists Aberdeen, who sit second in the Premiership.

"We've seen off Hearts already - who are a top-six team - in impressive fashion," Lennon told BBC Scotland.

"Aberdeen have been the second-best team in the country consistently over the last few years, and they keep improving every year under [manager] Derek McInnes.

"They've been to the League Cup final already, they're in the semi-final, they've had a great season. But you've got four teams in the competition who can win the trophy and I'm just pleased we're in that company now.

"You can imagine the players have been buoyant, relaxed in training, but we know we've got a real acid test on Saturday. [We're] the cup holders and want to hold onto that trophy as best they can.

"They've done really well to get to the semi, their performances in the competition have been excellent and I don't think Saturday holds any fear for them."

'We'll put out a positive line-up'

Against more offensive opposition this season, Lennon has typically deployed Marvin Bartley to anchor his midfield, and protect a defence that has conceded just 22 league goals.

That paid off in high-pressure victories over promotion-chasing Dundee United and city rivals Hearts - and the former Celtic manager insists he will rely on his "big-game" players.

"Derek's built a very good team at Aberdeen," Lennon added. "They know what they're doing, they've played together quite a while now. They can hurt you different ways, but so can we.

Hibernian celebrate clinching the Scottish Championship title
Hibs wrapped up the Championship title with a 3-0 win over Queen of the South on Saturday

"Midfield's going to be a huge factor in the game, and their wide men are a real threat, but we'll come up with something.

"I can't concentrate too much on Aberdeen, I want to concentrate on what we do. We've gone into every game this year trying to win it, and Saturday will be no different. We will put out a positive line-up and get our big players with the big-game mentality on the pitch."

'I thought it was hilarious - but I'm not too sure about his Speedos'

Leading scorer Jason Cummings caused a stir on social media this week when he shared a video of himself tussling with professional wrestler Grado at the club training centre.

The scantily-clad striker was filmed grappling with the wrestler, throwing his opponent onto a sofa, and leaping on top of him.

Jason Cummings
Playful striker Jason Cummings posted a spoof wrestling video on social media on Wednesday

Lennon revealed Cummings was receiving treatment for a back strain prior to his antics, but insists he never feared the colourful 21-year-old would suffer a costly injury.

"I thought it was hilarious," he said. "He is a personality and I don't think there's enough of them in the game. You've got to harness that and not beat it down.

"He's a big-game player, and he'll be important again on Saturday. But you've seen his personality, what he brings on and off the field, and you don't want to change that.

"That's Jason in a nutshell, he's a lot of fun to be around and he enjoys his football. He's very professional when he needs to be, he doesn't miss a day's training, scores a lot of goals, so we encourage stuff like that, I thought it was brilliant.

"Grado's a professional wrestler, they know what they're doing. I'm not too sure about his Speedos, but everything was fine and under control. I'm more concerned about Efe Ambrose doing three somersaults after he scores - that scares me more than anything Jason does."

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