NEIL LENNON’S apparent strategy of looking to recruit players he worked with at Celtic looks set to continue.
News emerged last night that Lennon was meeting former Hibs striker and last season’s Cup Final hero Anthony Stokes. Of course the two Irishmen might just have been meeting for a Guinness and a blether but there nevertheless is strong speculation that a deal is being discussed that could bring Stokes back to Easter Road for a third spell at the club.
His time at Blackburn Rovers has been hammered by off the field matters that the player is now trying to put behind him. Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray has spoken of his frustration at having to go through a relegation battle without the player being available and the Ewood Park club went down last weekend.
Mowbray, who is facing just cutting measures this summer as he prepares for life in League 1, is prepared to let the former Irish Internationalist leave and rebuild his career elsewhere and there could be no better place for him than at Easter Road under the watchful eye of Neil Lennon.
And Stokes knows that he enjoys hero status among the Hibs fans after scoring 2 goals in a Man of the Match performance for Hibs is last season’s Scottish Cup Final win over Rangers.
Stokes will be well aware that Lennon has already transformed the fortunes of one his former Celtic colleagues, Efe Ambrose.
Ambrose was out in the cold at Parkhead and regarded by the support there as a “bomb-scare” for his error prone defending.
But Lennon had always been able to coax the best our of Ambrose and the player enjoyed a successful loan spell at Easter Road during the final months of the season. The Hibs fans, crucially, warmed to the 28 year old Nigerian, and with Ambrose it is all about confidence.
Brighton have expressed a late interest in signing Ambrose but he experienced problems when the then Blackburn manager Owen Cotle attempted to take him from Celtic to Ewood Park in January. The English FA rejected a work permit on that occasion and that led to his move to Leith.
Ambrose is keen to stay in the UK as he looks to satisfy the Home Office criteria for a UK passport so Scotland remains his best bet.
And Neil Lennon is close to securing the deal which will see Ambrose move across the M8 on a permanent 3 year deal, when his Celtic contract expires at the end of the month.
And Lennon may not be done there, in his ex-player strategy.
Charlie Mulgrew is another player who may face the axe at Blackburn as Tony Mowbray comes to terms with the lower player budget he will have to work with in the third tier of English football.
And it seems unlikely that the Scotland international will fancy dropping into the lower leagues.
Lennon may make his move to add another player who is used to winning to his already impressive Hibs squad.
Bookies have been taking a few quid recently on Hibs finishing second in the Premiership next season. That is looking like a decent bet.