Florian Kamberi: Hibernian striker delighted to work with Neil Lennon again

By Bryn PalmerBBC Scotland
Florian Kamberi celebrates a goal for Hibs
Kamberi was an instant hit at Hibs, scoring three goals in his first four games and nine in 14 overall

Hibernian striker Florian Kamberi says the chance to continue working with head coach Neil Lennon persuaded him to return to the Edinburgh club.

The Swiss, 23, has signed a three-year deal after nine goals in a productive 14-game loan spell last term.

Hibs' 2-1 derby defeat by Hearts in May briefly led Lennon to consider his position, but Kamberi was happy to hear the boss was staying at Easter Road.

"I like working with the gaffer a lot. He gave me the trust I need," he said.

"I was clear I wanted to come back and he was a big, big part of that. It was a big decision for me to make but when I knew he was here, I was happy and ready to come back."

Hibs' loss to their city rivals in their penultimate league game of the campaign cost them the chance of finishing as Premiership runners-up, a display Lennon labelled "unacceptable".

"It is a good pressure," Kamberi said. "It is better to have a coach like this, who makes that pressure. He wants you to improve; he is a winner and he wants us also to be winners.

Simon Murray and Neil Lennon
Lennon (right) oversees Hibs' pre-season training on Tuesday

"Against Hearts, he was right. We played very bad, and we lost the chance of second place. It is good to have a coach like this, who has fire, who wants to bring on every player, every day.

"It is a great pleasure to work with Neil Lennon, and it is great for the club."

Hibs midfielder Dylan McGeouch is expected to move to England after his contract expired this month, while Scott Allan has returned to parent club Celtic and speculation continues to link Scotland midfielder John McGinn with a move south this summer.

Kamberi is undaunted by the potential loss of a trio that were key to Hibs' success last term as they finished fourth in the top flight in their first season back in the division.

He admits it will be "harder" for the Easter Road side to repeat their challenge next season but maintains second place is still a realistic target, with their opening Premiership fixture at home to Motherwell on 4 August.

"When you see the quality in the team and how we played, it is realistic," he said.

"It is not easy - Celtic are very strong, Rangers will be stronger than last season, Aberdeen, Hearts... It will be a tough season but we also have enough qualities in the team.

"The important thing is to have a good start. If we can win those first two or three games, that will be perfect.

Scott Allan and Dylan McGeouch
Scott Allan has returned to Celtic while Dylan McGeouch's future appears to be elsewhere

"If we are training hard and doing well, then anything is possible. We don't have to play under pressure. We just have to play free like last season and then take it game by game.

"The goal is to finish like last season or better. But it is too early to say now. We have to prepare well to start the European qualifying games."

Hibs open their Europa League campaign in a little over a fortnight, on Thursday 12 July, against Faroe Islands outfit NSI Runavik.

Kamberi admits he had never heard of the club before last week's draw and knows "nothing" about their first opponents of the season.

"I am sure the gaffer will give us some information when we need it," he said. "We are just focusing on ourselves so we are ready for the game."

While the Swiss striker endures double training sessions in the heat of Edinburgh, his compatriots are on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup knockout stages, a 1-1 draw with Brazil and a 2-1 win over Serbia meaning a draw against Costa Rica on Wednesday will see them reach the last 16.

"If they can draw 1-1 with Brazil, they can win against other big teams, so anything is possible," Kamberi added.

"I am happy to be part of the [squad] normally but they are doing really well. That is a goal for me, to be a part of the team.

"The Scottish Premiership is not an easy league, so if I am doing well here, I have a chance."

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