Hibernian: Neil Lennon says second place a realistic goal this season

Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon shares a joke at training
Neil Lennon's side are in their first season back in the top flight

Hibernian are now serious challengers for the runners-up spot in the Scottish Premiership, according to head coach Neil Lennon.

The Edinburgh side sit fourth in the table with 11 games left to play.

"The table doesn't lie," Lennon said. "We are five points off second place, so you have to realistically say, with 11 games to go, we are in with a shout.

"If we were sitting second in the league five points behind Celtic, you would say there is a title race on."

Hibs, who are 14 points behind leaders Celtic with Rangers and Aberdeen nine points adrift, are in their first season back in the top flight after winning the Championship in May.

"I did say at the start of the season it would be Celtic, then the next group would be Rangers, Aberdeen and the rest of us would be all fighting for it and that's the way it's panned out," Lennon said.

The Easter Road outfit have won four of their last five league matches and on Saturday head to Rugby Park to face an in-form Kilmarnock, who are now sixth.

Lennon thinks the turnaround at the Ayrshire club has been hugely impressive and that it is mainly down to the appointment of Steve Clarke as manager.

"They couldn't get the win at home and now they are formidable at home," he pointed out.

Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon and Kilmarnock counterpart Steve Clarke
Lennon is impressed by Steve Clarke's impact at next opponents Kilmarnock

"It's a little bit of psychology and it's also the effect that Steve has had in terms of the confidence he has brought.

"Not only to the players, but to the club and a lot of pride back into Kilmarnock.

"He is one of the best managers around at this level at the moment."

When the clubs last met in Ayrshire, back in October, Hibs returned to the capital with three points after a 3-0 victory.

However, Lennon suggested that Kilmarnock were extremely unlucky on the night not to have found the net, with goalkeeper Ofir Marciano playing his part and Kris Boyd going close.

"It could have been 5-3," added Lennon, whose side were held to a 1-1 draw by Kilmarnock at Easter Road in December.

"I think we deserved to win the game, but I think 3-0 flattered us. We played very well attacking-wise.

"Ofir made a couple of great saves and I think Boydy hit the cross-bar with a header.

"It was a very entertaining game. I think Steve was quietly, despite the result, happy with the way they played and obviously they have really kicked on since then."

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