Hibs bos Neil Lennon on John McGinn, Liam Henderson, Tommy Wright’s leotard and his new deal



After signing a new three-year contract yesterday, Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon confirmed that the club fended off improved offers from Nottingham Forest for John McGinn during the closing stages of the transfer window.

Lennon putting pen to paper on an extended deal at Easter Road had been a formality, the former Celtic manager having already spoken candidly about how he is enjoying life on and off the pitch in Edinburgh.

What was not certain was whether Scotland midfielder McGinn would remain a Hibs player beyond last Thursday’s signing deadline.

Hibs took Forest’s pursuit seriously, so much so that Lennon admitted that they lined up Celtic midfielder Liam Henderson as a potential replacement for the 22-year-old.

However, a third and final offer from the English Championship side, said to be in the region of £1.5 million, was dismissed by the Easter Road board.

“We had a valuation of the player, we engaged with Nottingham Forest,” said Lennon. They made a couple more bids after the initial one, which was nowhere near good enough.

“The second and third ones were more respectable but they still didn’t come anywhere near the valuation we have of the player.

“I was always confident we would keep John, it puts us in a good light in terms of how healthy the club is financially that they don’t have to go chasing the money.

“I think he wanted us to engage with Forest and we did that, and he was happy with the outcome.”

Confirming rumours of interest in Hoops midfielder Henderson, who won the Scottish Cup with Hibs last year during a season-long loan spell, Lennon said: “Only if the McGinn thing had gone through, we were weighing up options – and that would have been one of him.

“We’ve always admired Liam but obviously, with John staying, we didn’t need to make a move.”

Lennon was on good form yesterday and had no hesitation in recalling an embarrassing tale at Tommy Wright’s expense.

It involves the St Johnstone manager wearing a leotard under his training kit during their playing days, with Lennon admitting he nicknamed his one time Northern Ireland team-mate Mick McManus after the late wrestler.

The former Celtic manager got his own back after learning of Wright’s reaction when his friend was informed of Lennon learning Portuguese.

Wright apparently said: ‘Well having played golf with him out in Portugal in the summer the only words he needs to learn are fore and ball right’.

The pair will put their friendship to one side when third place Saints host Hibs tomorrow afternoon.

Lennon said: “Oh, he’s never told you about the leotard, has he? Surprise!

“I used to call him Mick McManus because it was this all-in-one thing that he used to pull on with the straps over the shoulders.

“It was just one of those under armour things, you know. But it looked like a wrestler’s outfit, covering him all the way down there.

“That’s what he gets for slagging off my golf!”

Commenting on his contract, Lennon said: “It gives me incentives and targets to work on now, and hopefully a bit of stability for the club. I think most of the clubs are still way behind Celtic but if we can get into that second bracket then I think that would be suitable for a club of this size.”