Hearts v Hibernian: Neil Lennon unfazed by Tynecastle pitch

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Hibs manager Lennon praises 'stellar' season

Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon says he has no issue with the Tynecastle pitch as his side prepare to lock horns with Hearts in Gorgie.

The length of the grass was branded 'embarrassing' by Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers as his team became the first to beat Hearts at Tynecastle this season.

Lennon's men tackle their city rivals for the fifth time - and third away from home - this term on Wednesday.

"I'm delighted to see grass on it," the Hibs boss said of the pitch.

"It's going to be dry and maybe a bit long, but it looked fine from where I was [on Sunday]. Hearts aren't going to cut the pitch or treat the pitch to suit anyone else bar themselves, which is entirely their prerogative.

"You take any advantage you can. They play a certain way and they get the pitch to suit their style of play. You hear of managers bringing the pitches in at certain times. I have come up against that in the Premier League and in Europe so no change there really."

'The table doesn't lie'

Hibs sit fourth in the Scottish Premiership, embroiled in a three-way tussle with Aberdeen and Rangers to finish runners-up to Celtic.

The Dons currently occupy second place, a point clear of Rangers, who they host on Tuesday night, and three ahead of Lennon's men.

Hearts have yet to score against Hibs in three league meetings this season, losing twice at Easter Road, but did enjoy a Tynecastle derby win in the Scottish Cup.

Hibs won promotion from the Championship last term and while they have amassed a 20-point buffer between them and sixth-placed Hearts, Lennon says he will not be judged on finishing above his local foes.

Jamie Maclaren and John McGinn celebrate the Australian's goal against Hearts
Jamie Maclaren, left, scored as Hibs beat Hearts 2-0 on their last derby meeting in March

"What are we, 20 points ahead? I think that is very, very healthy, and I think it doesn't lie to how strong and consistent we have been this season," he said.

"My aim or target isn't to finish above Hearts or to be top dogs in Edinburgh really. It's a by-part of what the bigger picture is. We have had a stellar season and we want that to continue.

"It's a tight pitch and it's not conducive to playing with a great deal of width, so the game gets narrow, it becomes a little bit more physical, and I can understand why Hearts are very strong at home.

"It's taken a very good team to break that record. We're hoping for more of the same tomorrow."

'Rangers should be out of sight'

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes said failing to finish second would be "a bit more embarrassing" for Rangers than either of their competitors for the runners-up position - a sentiment Lennon shares.

"The pressure is all on Rangers," Lennon said. "If you have a budget the size of Rangers compared to both what Derek and myself have had, they should be out of sight and comfortably in second place. But they are not and I think that's tribute to Aberdeen and ourselves.

Scott Allan and Sean Goss contest possession
Hibs beat Rangers when the sides last met, a 2-1 Ibrox victory in February

"I think maybe we are the surprise package. Aberdeen have been there or thereabouts for a number of years.

"I go back to what I said at the start of the season: you have Celtic, then you have Aberdeen and Rangers, then the rest. We want to get into that bracket and split those two teams if we can."

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