Hibernian boss Neil Lennon is relishing his return to Ibrox

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon leads Hibernian to Ibrox on Saturday afternoon

Neil Lennon insists he is relishing returning to Ibrox as Hibernian head coach - and wants his players to adopt the same attitude.

The former Celtic boss leads a team out in Govan for the first time in over five years when Rangers host Hibs on Saturday.

"It will be loud, I imagine," he said of his likely reception from the home fans. "Just the usual, I expect.

"I thrive on that sort of thing and want my players to do that as well."

Lennon's last managerial visit to Ibrox came in March 2012, when his Celtic side were beaten 3-2 as they looked to wrap up the top-flight title on their rivals' turf.

"There are some difficult things you have to listen to regarding your heritage or your family or your background," he said. "It's something you don't ever get used to, but you can draw some strength from as well.

"You know I like to play my role. It's part of the game. You have got to have character in the game. You have got to have humour, you have got to have fun. You can't all be serious and confined to the venomous side of the game.

"I have seen too much of that already over the summer and the pre-season. I have been appalled by what I have seen from some sections of supporters and we need to get away from all that.

"You have more to think about (at Ibrox). You have your team, obviously. It's just hype, it's noise. You can build this game as much as you want but the players have to go out and perform, I have to make sure they are fully concentrated on that and not get over-emotional.

"They have to keep their discipline in terms of the game and play as strongly as they can and hopefully get a positive performance."

David Gray scored a stoppage-time header to win the Scottish Cup for Hibs in 2016
David Gray scored a dramatic stoppage-time header to win the Scottish Cup for Hibs in 2016

Rangers and Hibernian have not met in Scotland's top tier since season 2011-12, when the Gers won all three matches without conceding a goal.

But the clubs locked horns most recently in May 2016, when Hibs famously ended their 114-year wait to lift the Scottish Cup by beating Rangers 3-2 in the final.

That triumph sparked a pitch invasion at Hampden Park, as both sets of fans clashed on the field, and Lennon hopes Saturday's match passes without incident.

"I want everybody to go to the game and enjoy it then go home safely," Lennon said. "We are talking about historical events now. Two different teams with two different managers and objectives. It's in the past.

"It was a hugely significant day for Hibs. Winning the cup meant so much to so many people. Some people hadn't seen that in a lifetime. And they waited a lifetime for it. It's gone now.

"We would like to do that again at some stage. As for the rivalry, there is always going to be rivalry in a contest, but we need to keep it safe and secure and within the 90 minutes of the game."

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