‘If I had eleven Darren McGregors my job would be stress free!’ Hibs boss Neil Lennon hails returning defender

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

NEIL LENNON insists he dreams of a team of Darren McGregors.

The Hibs gaffer is set to welcome the Easter Road stalwart back into the match-day squad against Hamilton on Saturday following three months on the sidelines with cartilage damage in his left knee.

While Lennon has vowed not to rush McGregor and is is unlikely to pitch him straight into action on the Accies’ unforgiven artificial surface, he has paid tribute to the defender’s drive and determination to battle back to fitness after undergoing surgery in September.

The recovery is all the more impressive given McGregor’s history – suffering cruciate knee ligament damage on TWO separate occasions which restricted him to just 12 appearances in the two seasons between 2011 and 2013.

Lennon lauded: “If I had eleven Darren McGregors then my job would be stress free!

“He has had a horrendous time over the years with injuries but has never let it get him down. He just bounces back. He looks strong again and it’s good to see him out training. It might take him a bit of time to get up to full speed obviously, but he’s in the squad and he may feature.

“He has an aura about him, an influence, and the players respect him, as do the management team. He’s a really good type and he loves the club.

“He’s champing at the bit to get back and he has knocked on my door already!

“The plastic pitch is not great for the joints and we’re ok at centre-half, but he’ll definitely be in and around there – and with December coming up and the volume of games we have it’s really good to have him back.

“It’s just a question of trying to get him up to full speed through training and conditioning, but he works like a demon in the gym and on his rehab.”

Meanwhile, Lennon has underlined the need for Hibs to bounce back from their defeat against St Johnstone last weekend and build a head of steam ahead of a mouth-watering December which sees them face Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen and Hearts.

He continued: “We have to build momentum as we’re in a really good position in the league and it’s important to stay there. Hamilton have had a really good start to the season and to say they’re well organised would be an understatement.

“They are a very fit team, they are full of hunger and desire. They have [David] Templeton up to speed, who has done very well for them, and [Greg] Docherty’s a good player. They are very strong defensively and it’s going to be a really competitive game for us.”

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