Hibs boss Neil Lennon on UEFA ban, scoring more goals, new goalkeeper and Liam Henderson

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Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon admits he plans to appear in person to contest the five-game ban meted out by UEFA after being ‘gobsmacked’ by the penalty.

European football’s governing body handed down the punishment for ‘acts of violence against the referee’ during last month’s Europa League defeat to Brondby.

The former Celtic manager was sent to the stand by Spanish official Juan Martinez Munuera after remonstrating over the decision to wrongly disallow a Jason Cummings goal for offside.

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Lennon taking his seat in directors’ box during Brondby clash

Lennon watched on from the stands in the second leg as Hibs lost the second qualifying round tie on penalties and the 45-year-old admits he is stunned by UEFA’s decision to take such excessive action.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s opening game of the Ladbrokes Championship at Falkirk, Lennon said: “I was gobsmacked by the ban.

“The game and a half that I served should be punishment enough.

“Any additional games, I was thinking one at the most but five; to say it is excessive is an understatement.

“I knew about the ban last week as (director of football operations) George Craig told me and I spat my coffee out.

“I could not believe it was a five game ban. It is just ridiculous and a piece of nonsense really.

“We will appeal it and whether we win it – I don’t know.

“The wording of the charge is ridiculous. It is difficult for me to comment on.

“We put a submission in at the time and that has obviously been ignored.

“We will go there and hopefully they will hear what we have to say. I will go in person as I think it is best to do that.

“I don’t know when the appeal will be held.”

Ruthless

With the ban only relating to European matches, Lennon will be in the dugout at the Falkirk Stadium and he has made it clear what Hibs need to improve on if they are to seal a return to the Premiership as league champions this season.

The Leith outfit finished 11 points adrift of title winners Rangers last term, scoring 59 goals.

Lennon, who replaced Alan Stubbs during the close-season, wants his team to be more ruthless in attack

He added: “They have to get used to being on the front foot most of the game and try to wear opposition teams down.

“I have experience of that from my time at Celtic.

“Whether I can pass that on to the players or not is another thing.

“We need to be a little bit more penetrative, certainly, in terms of the possession we have and the chances we create.

“We didn’t score enough goals last year, I think that’s pretty obvious.

“Defensively if you look at the goals against column, it was pretty strong.

“But 59 goals for is not enough over 36 games.

“You’re averaging under two goals a game, which, for an attacking team, this philosophy that we were supposed to have had, that was really attractive on the eye, we didn’t do enough in terms of goals.

“That’s obviously something we are looking to change, maybe be a little bit more, I wouldn’t say direct, but we’ll be certainly trying to get the ball forward a lot more quickly.

“Now, if teams sit in that’s when you have to be a little bit more patient but you still have to create chances.

“And that’s an area that we’ll obviously need to improve on.”

Coup

Lennon, meanwhile, has described the season-long loan arrival of Israeli international goalkeeper Ofir Marciano from Ashdod as a major coup for the club.

The 26-year-old trained with his new team-mates for the first time yesterday, although red tape may deny the shot-stopper a debut against the Bairns.

Lennon said: “It’s a bit of coup really to get a goalkeeper of that ilk to come and play here in the Championship in Scotland.

“Can he move onto England? I think so.

“It is down to him now to acclimatise to the British game and the physicality of it.

“He is built for it.

“Mentally, we will see what his temperament is.

“Israeli boys are tough, they are good types as I had (Beram) Kayal and (Nir) Bitton at Celtic and they are very good professionals.

“They look after themselves really well and have a good mentality.

“We’re still waiting on all the paperwork to come through as well and, even if it does, we’ll have a decision to make on whether he starts.”

Lennon, meanwhile, hopes to get an answer from Celtic next week after making enquires into re-signing midfielder Liam Henderson on loan, but has played down reports of a move for St Mirren playmaker Stevie Mallan.

He added: “We made our initial request enquiry before the qualifiers.

“Celtic said they wanted to negotiate them and they have had a big win now, so things may move on.

“We may have an answer in the next few days.

“Stevie Mallan is pure speculation there is nothing in that.

“I would not talk about players who are affiliated to other clubs unless we have made an approach but there is nothing in that.”

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