Hibernian: Neil Lennon says Premiership is 'sexier' now after summer signings

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon has signed eight players this summer, the latest being Anthony Stokes

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon says the Premiership is "a lot sexier" after a summer in which leading clubs all strengthened their squads.

Lennon has signed eight new players himself and describes the latest, Anthony Stokes, as a "big-game" player.

"There are big clubs back in and they're spending money," Lennon said.

"You've got Celtic and then the next group is Aberdeen and Rangers; the rest of us are fighting out for fourth, fifth, sixth and avoiding relegation."

With Hibs returning to the top flight after three seasons in the Championship, Lennon has added experience to his squad. He has brought goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, defenders Efe Ambrose and Steven Whittaker, midfielders Vykintas Slivka and Danny Swanson, and forwards Deivydas Matulevicius, Simon Murray and Stokes to Easter Road.

The latter arrived after a spell of persuasion from Lennon, and once he had weighed up other offers, and the Hibs manager believes he can return to the best of his form in his third spell at the club.

'Stokes has the qualities to play at a very good level'

"It shows how far we've come in a short period of time that we can attract a player of his calibre," Lennon said.

"Not just him, Ambrose, Marciano, Whittaker, these players have vast experience, but they've won the league on numerous occasions. We've just added that extra quality and experience that we're going to need.

"I've known Anthony a long time, I know his personality, I know his qualities. He's a player we've tried to get on board for quite a while.

"There's a lot of football left in him and he's still got the qualities to play at a very good level. He played for Celtic for four seasons and played very well, consistently, and won trophies, played in Europe, scored goals in big games."

Hibernian striker Anthony Stokes
Anthony Stokes has returned to Easter Road for a third spell at the club

Lennon's side start their league campaign at home to Partick Thistle and after the Championship flag us unfurled before kick off, he wants the team to carry on the momentum built up during the last two seasons.

"You don't want to lose that feel good factor very early, but it can happen," he said.

"We're at home and we want to take the game to Partick Thistle, who are an excellent side, but it may take us a few games to find our feet at this level again. I'm pretty confident that with the quality and experience of player I have it won't take long.

"I'm not going to make any predictions or targets because it's folly. There's Celtic, then there's Aberdeen and Rangers and then the rest of us will fight it out.

"For the supporters and the people who work here, those three years [in the Championship] were purgatory really."

Stokes is fit enough to be considered for selection for Saturday's game, but Lennon has yet to make a decision on whether or not to include him in the match squad.

'I can't live off anything I've done in the past'

The 29-year-old striker believes the club should be aiming for the "top four" and is focused on reviving his career after a frustrating year at Blackburn Rovers.

"That's all behind me now so I'm just looking forward to getting back enjoying football and hopefully being successful," Stokes said.

"You need to be ambitious and looking towards the top of the table. If you look at the squad, there's a great mix of youth and experience, some of the signings that have come in, they've kept a good core of players from previous seasons.

"I can't live off anything I've done in the past for Hibs. If I have two or three games where I don't perform, they'll be on my back, that's' the way football is. I like the pressure, I like the fact you need to perform.

"I should be at my peak, in my prime. With the squad here, I can't see why I can't perform and why we can't all be successful together."

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport