Neil Lennon lavishes praise on John McGinn following Runavik display – as he reflects on ‘sloppy, bizarre’ night in Toftir



HIBS boss Neil Lennon has lauded the impact of John McGinn after the Celtic target made his first competitive appearance of the campaign against NSI Runavik.

The Scotland internationalist, who has been the subject of two rejected bids from the Hoops, belied the uncertainty regarding his future with a goal and two assists during Hibs’ breathless 6-4 win in Toftir.

His involvement means that – should an agreement finally be struck – McGinn would be unable to play for Celtic in Europe until the Champions League group phase. That, however, is of no concern to Lennon.

“I thought John was very good,” praised Lennon. “He got us going with the goal that made it 2-1. His fitness looked okay and his passing was good.

“The best thing for him is to get out and play and focus on his job.

“Something may change – that is up to any clubs who want to come in. But we said we would play him in the Faroes and we did that. We move on now.”

Boasting a 6-1 lead from the first leg at Easter Road, Hibs conceded twice in a surreal opening, with an Efe Ambrose own-goal and a Klaemint Olsen strike briefly transforming mission impossible into merely improbable.

Runavik skipper Olsen would go on to notch a hat-trick as he enhanced his reputation immeasurably, with McGinn, Lewis Stevenson, David Gray, Ambrose and a Stevie Mallan double ensuring Hibs progressed 12-5 on aggregate.

While through safely, the repeated moments of sloppiness on a surreal night in the Faroes will not be forgiven next week when Asteras Tripolis, who have reached the Europa League group phase in two of the last four campaigns, visit Edinburgh.

A thick fog descended in the second half

“I wanted the boys to be professional – and they were anything but for the first 15 minutes,” reflected Lennon. “It was a bizarre night and we were sloppy at the back – but that is not a litmus test for what will happen next week [against Asteras Tripolis].

“It was a like pre-season, which – for us – it sort of was. It was a more experimental team, some of them needed the game time and that is nowhere near the level of performance I’d expect against better opposition.”

Lennon, who was serving the penultimate game of his Uefa touchline ban, added: “Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t have access to the dressing room! No, I can’t be too critical. We’ve negotiated the tie safely.”