Eddie May looking forward after “strange week” for Hibs

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May admits it’s been a “strange week” for Hibs (Photo credit: David Ronney)

Hibernian caretaker manager Eddie May has promised the club will focus on what happens on the pitch after the controversial departure of Neil Lennon this week.

Lennon was suspended a week ago, but statement from the club yesterday announced that he has left by mutual consent. Former assistant manager May wants to forget about what has happened and focus on the future.

“It’s been a strange week for the club what all the issues we have had to work through, but the main thing is we have played a game and have another one to look forward to tomorrow,” he said.

“As you’ve seen in the statement everyone is happy to move on with their lives, I’m glad it is over with and we can concentrate on tomorrow [against Aberdeen].

“I wouldn’t call it a setback, but it was certainly a surprise for everyone at the club. It is always sad when someone parts ways with a football club, whether it is a player or a manager. But everything moves forward, that is the nature of football.”

May took charge of a 3-1 win against St Mirren on Sunday in Lennon’s absence. He stated that while he has been happy to stand in when required, he is not interest in retaining the position and expects a new manager to be hired within two weeks.

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May expects a new manager to be announced in two weeks

“I cannot see it being a long process. Hopefully we will get somebody in charge permanently in the next ten days or so. I’m happy with my job here, Hibernian is somewhere I have always enjoyed working at.

“When our new boss comes in I look forward to working with him and going back to helping the young lads break into the first team because that is why I was brought into this football club.”

Neil Lennon always worked closely with his coaching staff and May expressed his gratitude for all that the Northern Irishman had done for him.

“He [Lennon] put an awful lot of trust in me, and in turn I learnt so much from a manager who has been very successful in Scotland. I would put him in the top bracket of managers in this country.”

“I learnt a lot from Neil, and it is no secret what he has done to his club. I know nothing more than what was released in the statement by the club, and I can do is wish Neil the very best for the future.”

Hibernian face Aberdeen tomorrow before travelling to Celtic Park the following weekend.

Hogg: Scotland “on the path to something special”

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Scotland host Italy at Murrayfield in Six Nations opener (Photo credit: Vclaw via Wikipedia)

Scotland full back Stuart Hogg is confident the nation can achieve “something special” in the Six Nations, starting with tomorrow’s home match against Italy.

Scotland kick off the competition  at BT Murrayfield tomorrow, and Hogg thinks they have every chance of coming out on top of the competition.

“We are looking to the Italy game on Saturday to get off to the best start possible. Italy are a great rugby team who will come to Murrayfield and make it difficult for us,” he said.

“It is test match rugby, there is no such thing is an easy game these days.

“It will be an exciting challenge for us because they have some great individual runners. I expect it to be a hugely physical game and the boys are preparing for a real tough match up.”

The game against Italy is the first of three home games that Scotland have in the Six Nations. A week tomorrow marks the second game at Murrayfield against Ireland, with  Scotland also hosting Wales in the second last game of the tournament before an all-important clash with England at Twickenham.

Hogg believes Murrayfield can be crucial to Scotland’s challenge.

“We’ve got a huge opportunity with three home games this year to try and win every single one and put ourselves in a good position to win the competition,” he said.

“Every game we will go into with the attitude and belief that we can come out on top.”

Scotland’s Six Nations got off to a bad start 12 months ago when they were comprehensively beaten by Wales. However, they have won their previous six meetings with Italy.

Hogg revealed there is excitement among the players ahead of this year’s tournament.

“Everyone that is coming in from club duty to join the Scotland camp in entering a place with a real buzz around it. Every player is working so hard to try and get a starting jersey.

“We believe we are on the right path to achieving something special.

“We’ve worked really hard over the last few years to get where we are, and we truly believe that we can win the Six Nations.”

Hibs boss, Lennon calls on defensive and attacking recruitment before window closes

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Hibernian manager, Neil Lennon believes the club need to recruit more players before the end of the January window if they are to finish in the top six. (Photo credit: Hayden Barry)

Hibernian boss, Neil Lennon has called for recruitment at both ends of the park if the Edinburgh side are to finish in the top six by the end of the season.

The latest blow to the Hibees injury list was defender Ryan Porteous who has received a scan today on a potential long-term knee injury.

Lennon now believes the club need to resolve both their defensive and attacking issues this season by bringing in at least two players before the transfer window closes next week.

Porteous came off 28 minutes into Hibs’ 1-0 defeat to Motherwell at Fir Park. Lennon gave an update to the defender’s condition. He said: “He is getting scanned today so I am not sure how severe it is yet, but it didn’t look good after the game on Wednesday night. It is just another blow, coming into this month we’ve arguably lost our three best players of the first half of the season. Ryan, Martin Boyle – who is out for the rest of the season – and Efe Ambrose.”

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Neil Lennon has been left frustrated by the number of injuries to his side this season. (Photo credit: David Ronney)

Lennon then turned his focus to bringing in players before the end of the month. He added: “With Efe [Ambrose] being away and now Ryan out it’ll depend on the length of his injury, but it is something we will maybe need to look in to.

“We need to get some players in to bolster what we have because we need an injection of freshness and quality. We are down to the barebones, we have five academy players in the squad of 18 so we only have 13 senior players currently available. We need to get some work done and start challenging for the top six.

“That’s what we are working on [buying a striker], and a wide player as well. We want to bring in at two players at the minimum between now and the end of January, I think that is essential. It is vitally important that a striker comes in because at the minute we have only two options in that position. Everyone is looking for strikers, but we need an injection of quality to help us up top.”

One positive the Hibs manager can certainly take from recent weeks is the impact made by playmaker Ryan Gauld who has already been influential in his second spell at the club.

Lennon hailed the new recruit. He said: “I was really pleased with him, he is playing well and he well definitely continue to bring quality to the team. In the two games he has played he’s been arguably our best player.”

Hibernian take on St Mirren on Sunday where they’ll be looking to bounce back and obtain their first win in the Premiership for the new year.

Hearts captain expecting “tough run in” for SPFL title race

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Christophe Berra believes Hearts could get themselves back in the title race. (Photo credit: Hayden Barry)

Hearts captain, Christophe Berra, knows his side will have tough task ahead if they’re to get themselves back battling for the Premiership title this season.

Just nine points separate first and sixth place in the league table, and the centre half is confident they can be in the race until the very end.

The Tynecastle side take on St. Johnstone this weekend and a win would see them move above the side from Perth into fifth place.

Berra spoke to the media about the tough challenge that awaits the club for the second half of the season. He said: “It is so tight between the top six just now, every team seems to be taking points off each other. You’ve got St Johnstone who have been consistent throughout, Aberdeen who started slowly but have picked up again. Celtic and Rangers are right at the top of their game as you would expect, so it is going to be a tough run in.

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The Hearts defender was injured during the club’s impressive start to the season. (Photo credit: Hayden Barry)

“If we can pick up all the points against St Johnstone tomorrow, then it’ll be a perfect start to getting ourselves right in the mix again.

“We’ve all got to play each other, and points will be lost every weekend so it’ll come to who can keep their players fit, what team has that special bit of talent that can win you these big games, and who can get a bit of luck when it matters most.”

Berra has spent much of the first half of the season on the sidelines with a torn hamstring sustained in a 1-0 win over Celtic in August.

However, the 33-year-old is back in the squad and hopes players competing for places in the team can lead to better performances. He added: “Obviously, competition for places in the team is good, it is down to the gaffer to make his decision on what players he goes with, but everyone here is fighting for the jersey.

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Hearts captain said he’s aware of tough competition in the top six. (Photo credit: Hayden Barry)

“It’s great to see so much competition all over the park because if you don’t then some players can get a bit slack, so this will keep everyone on there toes. That is what you need if you want to build a strong squad and the manager is trying to do that.”

The Hearts captain spoke about how manager Craig Levein’s straightforward approach when addressing the players has helped the team improve on their mistakes.

“I’ve worked under a lot of managers but for me the one thing you really appreciate as a player is when the manager is honest with you, so you know where you stand. He had a few harsh words for the players and for the team overall.

“We know that we did not hit the standards that we have in the past, but the games are coming thick and fast, so we have an opportunity to put that right.”

Emiliano Sala: Investigation launched over ‘legality of pilot’s licence’

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Emiliano Sala made a club record deal to Cardiff City from Nantes for £15m before his disappearance. (Photo credit: Fabrizio Neitzke)

Investigators into the disappearance of Cardiff City player, Emiliano Sala say they are inspecting whether the player’s pilot had the correct licence.

Pilot David Ibbotson was the only other member on board the aircraft which went missing on Monday. Whether or not Mr Ibbotson’s licence is legal is set to be investigated.

The search for the Piper PA-46 Malibu aircraft carrying the two passengers had been formally called off on Thursday evening after the rescue had transitioned into a recovery mission.

Supporters from both Cardiff City and former club, Nantes have paid tribute to the 28-year-old since his disappearance over the English Channel on Monday evening.

A banner outside the Cardiff City Stadium read: “We never saw you play and never saw you score but Emiliano our beautiful bluebird we will love you forever more.”

Since the first announcements of Nantes winger Sala going missing while travelling to Cardiff to complete a transfer, there has been a development in the potential reasons for the plane’s disappearance.

A Civil Aviation Authority source said: “The issue of whether the trip was undertaken on a commercial basis and the level of the pilot’s qualification will be addressed by the investigation.

“But the priority right now is to find the aircraft and what happened to the people on board.”

Yesterday Guernsey Police released a statement about calling off the search. Harbour Master Captain, David Barker said: “My team have just met to review the search and rescue operation which has been underway since the plane disappeared on Monday night.

“Despite the best efforts of air and search assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France, which has covered an area of approximately 1,700 sq. miles – with a significant amount of this searched more than once – and having examined mobile phone data and satellite imagery, we have been unable to find any trace of the aircraft, the pilot or the passenger.

“There has been over 24 hours of continuous searching, with 80 hours combined flying time across three planes and five helicopters. Two lifeboats have also been involved, as well as assistance from various passing ships and fishing boats.

“We reviewed all the information available to us, as well as knowing what emergency equipment was on board, and have taken the difficult decision to end the search.

“The chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote.

“Next of kin have been informed of this development, and my thoughts go out to the family of the pilot and passenger at this most difficult of times.”

‘Andy Murray is a god’ says Hibs boss Neil Lennon ahead of his potential retirement

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Neil Lennon spoke highly of Andy Murray ahead of their Scottish Cup match this weekend. (Photo credit: Graham Miller)

Hibernian manager, Neil Lennon has labelled tennis great and Hibs fan, Andy Murray as ‘a god’ ahead of a potential early retirement.

Murray, who joined Hibernian in 2018 in a mentor role, could have played his last professional tennis match when he confirmed in an emotional press conference ahead of the Australian Open that this tournament could be his last.

Lennon spoke of the public reception the Dunblane local has received since his retirement plans, hailing him as one of the all time great sporting stars. He said: “From my point of view Andy Murray is a god, he’s a sporting icon, one the greatest British athletes ever. It is a huge loss to the British public I think. It’s one of those moments that you’ll always remember, a genuine JFK moment.

“That lad had so much pressure to deal with and so much expectation riding on his shoulders. And he didn’t just get to the finals he went on to the finals in an era that will most likely be considered the greatest tennis era of all time and he was right in the mix, on his own.

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The Hibernian manager said he will be fielding a full strength team against Elgin on Saturday. (Photo credit: David Ronney)

“A cut well ahead of anybody else and that is a huge burden to carry but he carried it brilliantly. He’s lived so many brilliant memories for so many people and been such an inspiration and I’m sure that will continue for him even after tennis.”

Lennon spoke to the media ahead of their Scottish Cup fifth round tie against League Two Elgin City this weekend.

Hibernian have had an active January transfer window so far for better or worse. While Ryan Gauld joins the club on loan for the rest of the season and a pre-contract agreement has been made with Celtic’s Scott Allan to return back to the club from next season, Lennon has lost the services of defender Efe Ambrose who left the club.

However, the club are hoping to land Allan earlier than expected on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

 

The 27-year-old spent a year at Easter Road before joining Celtic in 2015 and was a fan favourite while on loan last season. Lennon added: “Hopefully we can get him in before the end of the month, if not then we’ll have a good player in the building before the start of the next season on a long-term contract.

“We’re delighted because we know his qualities and we know what he’ll bring to the team, he’s something that we’ve missed at the start of this season. He had a huge impact at the club this time last year.

“There’s still a long way to go in negotiations but I he can come before the end of January it would be fantastic. But regardless it is a brilliant signing for us going forward.”

Lennon also mentioned the club were in advanced talks to sign Belgian midfielder, Stephane Omeonga from Genoa on loan.

The Hibs manager also wants a striker in this window but has no illusion as to how difficult it will be to get the players they want.

Gregor Townsend announces Scotland squad for Six Nations – Podcast

Following the release of Gregor Townsend’s Scotland squad for the Six Nations in February, Bryce Donaldson and Fraser Munro discussed the players included and their thoughts ahead the competition.

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Hibs win was key to rediscovering winning form according to Hearts defender Ben Garuccio

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Ben Garuccio believes Hibernian win can reignite winning run. (Photo credit: Hayden Barry)

Hearts full back, Ben Garuccio believes the club can replicate their impressive start to the season for the second half of the campaign following the win against Hibernian in the tail-end of 2018.

The Edinburgh side suffered a series of poor results following multiple injuries to key squad players but with players now returning to full fitness, Garuccio sees this weekend’s Scottish Cup tie against Livingston the perfect match to continue their win streak.

He said: “The Hibs game was a perfect example, maybe we didn’t play the prettiest game ever but that’s what we did at the start of the year in terms of grinding out results. Even when we weren’t playing our best football we were still getting fantastic results.

“It is about getting that consistency back again, you saw probably the best part of us in the early part of the year and obviously, like in any season you are going to face challenges and you are going to lose players so the way we deal with that is very important.”

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All eyes on the prize. Hearts were knocked out of the Scottish Cup in the quarter finals last season. (Photo credit: Hayden Barry)

The last time these two sides met was in a 5-0 victory in December for Gary Holt’s side. The Australian left-back said it’s important to put that result behind them and focus on Sunday’s fifth round tie. He added: “Of course, but we need to try and put that to the back of our minds but I am sure it will be there, especially for the players.

“We expect to be on top of them at Tynecastle but we need to take our chances when they come because Livingston are a top side and they will not give us many.”

However, Livingston are facing a much stronger Hearts squad this time round. Steven Naismith is fit again and will likely partner new striker David Vanecek up front – who is one of Hearts’ winter signings brought in by Craig Levein. Conor Shaughnessy has also bolstered the defensive options since Jimmy Dunne’s departure.

Garuccio said the new signings are settling in well alongside the returning players from injury. He said: “Everyone is feeling good, it is good to be refreshed and it was nice to get away for a little bit. We’re all now just looking forward to the games rolling on again.

“Now that we have those players back it is showing in the results, it is feeling good again and we just need to kick on and start the first half of the season the same way we started the first.”

Sports Paper Review

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EN4 journalists Fraser Munro and Lauren Archer discuss the top stories from the back pages.

Edinburgh prepare for final Champions Cup group match against Montpellier

Edinburgh Rugby have named an unchanged side from last week’s win over Toulon for their final match tonight in Pool 5 at Murrayfield against Montpellier.

Richard Cockerill’s side will kick off three points ahead of their French opposition as they aim to land a home quarter-final in the Champions Cup should they be victorious by the final whistle.

A win for the side from the capital would also secure a place for Glasgow Warriors as one of the three best runners up in the group stage.

Edinburgh fullback, Blair Kinghorn was one of the try scorers in the historic win over Toulon last weekend. He believes the performances the club are producing this season are gaining the respect from clubs across Europe. He said: “We knew it would be tough, with a couple of really big teams in there and some especially tough away games.

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Blair Kinghorn anticipates a tough match against Montpellier. (Photo credit: Fraser Munro)

“We’re really happy with the way we’re going and now it’s a case of keeping focussed on the job in hand.

“We feel like we’re earning respect in a wider pool not just in our own league so hopefully teams will want to come to Murrayfield because our home record is outstanding this year and we will do everything to keep that going on Friday.

“Everyone’s obviously really happy, but we’ve still got a job to do on Friday. Every single one of us is enjoying the rugby, we’re happy to be winning and most importantly to be playing well.”

“It was a fantastic result against Toulon and hopefully the fans come out in their numbers again on Friday night to get us across the line.”

Edinburgh opened their first Champions Cup campaign for five seasons with a 21-15 defeat away at Montpellier, who currently sit in ninth place in the French Top 14.

However, Vern Cotter’s side will know how dangerous Edinburgh can be at home. With Cockerill’s side yet to taste defeat at Murrayfield this season.

In spite of this, Edinburgh prop Pierre Schoeman insists that his side will go into this match with the odds against them. He said: “I would say that we are still underdogs for sure, if you look at the players and the experience that they have as a squad.

“It’s a team full of players who have worked very hard to get there and to play for a club like that is a fantastic achievement. The stats speak for themselves, a very successful club globally.

“We have home advantage, but Montpellier are an international team and for them travelling is like brushing your teeth so it’s not going to affect them at all. Murrayfield is a very special place and will be a boost of energy to us.

“This is a home test against one of Europe’s very best so the pressure is definitely on.”

Edinburgh could still qualify for the last eight of the Champions Cup but with a home tie in the quarter finals agonizingly close, Cockerill’s men can’t afford to slip up at the final hurdle.

It all gets underway at Murrayfield from 7:45pm.

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