HIBERNIAN manager Neil Lennon has warned his players they may never again enjoy as good a chance as they have this season of finishing runners-up in the Premiership.
However, if they do, the decorated former Celtic boss insists he will rate the achievement amongst the best of his glittering career.
A victory at home to Hamilton Accies on Tuesday night would haul the Easter Road outfit to within a point of Rangers, who currently occupy second spot but are under increasing pressure from the capital and from Aberdeen to secure the ‘best of the rest’ tag behind champions-elect Celtic.
With an away trip to face bottom side Ross County this weekend, Lennon has urged Hibs to seize their opportunity and head into the split with growing momentum as they bid to defy expectations and supplant their more-fancied rivals.
“I’ve been in this position many, many times before – but the players haven’t,” said Lennon, who revealed Cammy Bell’s calf injury is set to speed Ofir Marciano’s return to the side after the goalkeeper served a one-match suspension in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Partick Thistle.
“It’s important they take the opportunity because they might never get this opportunity again, to be so close to second place with five, six, seven games of the season to go.
“They’ve played well and they’ve handled the big games very, very well. And every game now is more or less a cup final. After the split, you’re going into gargantuan games against the top-six, and it’s very exciting.
“But we have to negotiate these games and give ourselves a good platform going into the split.
“They’re well ahead of where I thought they would be, realistically. We’ve won more games at this stage of the season than I could have envisaged. I’m really enjoying the moment.
“Finishing second in the league would be up there with anything I have achieved. It would be tremendous. But we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves there. We have a four-point gap to close and we may not do that.
“We have to take care of our own games and expect that Aberdeen and Rangers will win. But if we could take six points going into the split, it would be a tremendous position for us to be in.”