IT would be disrespectful to the work that Jack Ross has done during his time at Easter Road to suggest that this Hibernian side will be meeting their maker when they travel to Parkhead tomorrow.

Ross has brought in several new players – four of his signings started in the Premiership match against Rangers that his team drew 2-2 last weekend – and introduced his own style of football since succeeding Paul Heckingbottom last November.

Yet, it is undeniable that Celtic manager Neil Lennon made a significant impact on the capital club during the two-and-a-half years that he spent in the dugout in Leith and can take some of the credit for the success they are currently enjoying.

He was responsible for Hibs landing Ofir Marciano, the Israeli goalkeeper who has once again been in inspired form this term, and saw that Ryan Porteous, the young Scottish centre half, had all the attributes required to make the step up to senior football.

Lennon has certainly been pleased to see them start the 2020/21 campaign so impressively – they have won five, drawn two and lost only one of their eight league games to date and sit just three points off top spot in the league table.

“Hibs are a big club,” he said. “They are a proper big city club and certainly it was important I got them back into the Premier League. They get huge crowds at Easter Road and I’m really pleased to see them doing so well. I just hope they don’t do so well on Sunday.”

Lennon, who is attempting to lead Celtic to an historic tenth consecutive Scottish title this season, is acutely aware of the damage Hibs can do to his side’s chances of winning the Premiership.

“Hibs got a great result at the weekend and they’ve made a great start to the season,” he said. “I know a lot of the players there and Jack’s got them playing really well. They’ve got a very strong mentality about them. It will be a tough match for us and a big game in terms of the championship.

“I was impressed with how Hibs approached the Rangers game. They have got that in them. They’ve got some really good players. Martin Boyle I know very well. He’s a big threat. Kevin Nisbet and Christian Doidge are playing really well.

“And Ryan Porteous and Paul Hanlon offer a good blend of youth and experience at the back. So, the team complements itself very well at the minute. It’s obviously still very early in the season, but they’ve made a great start and we’re very wary of Hibs. Any team that takes points off ourselves and Rangers has to be respected. We need to keep an eye on them.

“But we’ll be prepared for it. We know the threat Hibs pose and we know their style of play. It’s got the ingredients of a very good game.”

Marciano and Porteous were the centre of attention at Easter Road last Sunday for very different reasons; the keeper pulled off a late double save from Scott Arfield to ensure his side picked up a point and the defender was involved in an off-the-ball challenge on Alfredo Morelos which many observers felt he should have been ordered off for.

Of his former keeper, Lennon said: “Ofir can be among the best in the country when he’s playing well. Since I’ve been back at Celtic, and played against Hibs, he’s pulled off some outstanding saves. He’s capable of that. He was superb for me over the time I was at Hibs.”

Porteous is no stranger to controversy due to the robust, some would say cynical, nature of many of his challenges. But Lennon, who didn’t shy away from the physical aspect of the game during his own playing career, knows the 21-year-old is an exceptional footballer with a bright future ahead of him.

“Ryan’s had a few injuries, so he needs a run of games,” he said. “At his age I think he’s got real good leadership qualities. He’s aggressive in the air and is a really good defender. It’s not surprising you’ve seen him do so well. I think he’s got a great temperament for the game.”

Hibs flourished during Lennon’s spell in charge – they won the Championship and promotion back to the Premiership at the end of his first season at the helm and then qualified for Europe.

But the Northern Irishman, who took over after a bruising experience in England with Bolton Wanderers, also benefitted from his time there and Celtic are reaping the rewards of that just now.

“I loved my time at Hibs,” he said. “I had a brilliant time. I had a brilliant group of players and good people in the background. It’s a great club with a great support. I had a couple of fantastic years with getting promotion and then getting into Europe. There were a couple of semi-finals too and we played with a real sort of swagger and freedom.

“I inherited a very good squad. They’d not long won the Scottish Cup. I just looked at the players and felt we had a chance. They kicked on and everything we asked of them they did very well. It was difficult to maintain the standards set in those first few years. But I really did enjoy myself there, enjoyed it immensely. My time there reinvigorated me as a manager.”