Hibs boss Neil Lennon knows what he is getting in ex-Celtic pupil Anthony Stokes but admits Simon Murray has ‘exceeded expectations’

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NEIL LENNON insists he knows perfectly well what to expect at Hibs from the ‘maverick’ and ‘rascal’, Anthony Stokes, but admits he has been taken aback by the early-season form of new recruit Simon Murray.

The duo have freshened up the Easter Road attack after arriving to very different receptions this summer and could be paired together up front in Tuesday night’s Betfred Cup encounter with Ayr United.

Stokes is a firm hero of the Hibs fans following his magnificent performance and brace in the historic Scottish Cup triumph over Rangers last year and, having signed him and worked with him for four years at Celtic, Lennon has a clear idea of his strengths and weaknesses.

The former Parkhead boss is convinced any off-field deficiencies have always been exaggerated, but claims he will not shy away from applying strict discipline if it is required.

He said: “He knows there is a line that he can’t cross with me.

“He managed that very well for four years – and there’s no reason why he can’t do the same again.

“I think sometimes it gets blown out of proportion, as well.

“There is no doubting his ability. And you don’t lose the ability. Sometimes you lose your way, whether it be through injury or things away from football.

“But, if you can get him right and focused, the talent is still there.

“I don’t think he takes a lot of managing.

MAVERICKS AND RASCALS

“We do have these figures in the game – the mavericks, the rascals. And sometimes the stories around them get blown out of all proportion.

“But I’ve known him for a long time and I know the type of kid he is. He’s all right.

“And, yeah, if he needs a stick across the backside, then he’ll get one.”

Whilst Stokes will need game-time to get back up to speed, Murray has hit the ground running with eight goals in just five competitive matches.

Ane Lennon confessed the former Dundee United player, who has already won over a doubting Hibs support with his all-action displays, has surpassed his own hopes so far.

He added: “He scores the kinds of goals I like – tap-ins.

“He’s able to get between the posts and he’s got a couple of headers already, a couple of goals from close range and he scored a penalty at the weekend.

SUPERB

“I’ve had all kinds of different striker goals from him already.

“I knew all about his work-rate and his physical attributes but what I saw on Saturday that pleased me was his link-up play, which was superb.

“Even his first touch, which has been a little bit inconsistent, was very, very good.

“So, he’s in a good place at the minute and, yes, he has exceeded my expectations – so far.

“But we’re only one game into the season – give him five!”

“What we want to do is polish off the rough edges, if there are any.

“But he’s doing it all by himself at the minute. We haven’t really had to do a lot of work with him and his attitude has been fantastic.”

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