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Neil Lennon a big fan of former player Ryan Porteous ahead of Hibs reunion

Hibernian v Rangers – Scottish Premiership – Easter Road
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Neil Lennon threw Ryan Porteous into first-team action because he was worried about holding the Hibernian youngster back.

But the Celtic boss has warned his former Easter Road apprentice that it may be time to tone down his aggressive streak for the good of his career.

Lennon was Hibs boss back in 2017 and admitted he had no choice but to hand Porteous his first-team debut in a Betfred Cup clash at Montrose given his burgeoning talent.

He also trusted the Dalkeith defender to make his first top-flight start at Ibrox later that season and was rewarded as Porteous shone in a shock 2-1 win over Graeme Murty’s Rangers.

But the Scotland Under-21 ace has since then gone on to enjoy a tempestuous relationship with the Light Blues.

He was sent off for an unsavoury tackle on Borna Barisic last term and was at the centre of controversy again during Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Gers, treading a fine line with his behaviour.

Having been booked for an off-the-ball barge on Alfredo Morelos, he then got involved in a spat at the final whistle with the Colombian, James Tavernier and boss Steven Gerrard as they snubbed his offer of a handshake.

There is a danger of him gaining a reputation as a hot-head – and that would disappoint Lennon who is a major fan of his committed style.

The Hoops manager – who will be reunited with his former student when Hibs travel to Celtic Park on Sunday – said: “I think he quite likes it. I think he’s that type of character.

“When he was coming through the ranks at Hibs you could tell he had leadership qualities. He was head and shoulders above the majority of his peers.

“I gave him his debut because we didn’t want to hold him back. Ironically, he made his first league start at Ibrox and he was outstanding.

“He’s had a couple of bad injuries that have curtailed his progress but he’s a strong, strong boy.

“He’s aggressive and he maybe needs to temper the aggression a little bit.

“But he’s a very good centre-half for his age.”

Jack Ross has got Hibs back on track after the Leith outfit’s failed experiment with Lennon’s successor Paul Heckingbottom.

And Lennon has warned his team they will be coming up against a side as dangerous as they come in Scotland.

“It is a tough game,” he said. “Hibs will be buoyed by a good performance and a very good result last weekend.

“They made a great start to the season. They are playing with a lot of confidence.

“Hibs are a huge threat. They’re as good as anybody in the division.

“I know a lot of the players. I know Martin Boyle and I think the two strikers have done well, Kevin Nesbit and Christian Doidge.

“Doidge can be a goalscorer and Nesbit has hit the ground running in the Premiership.

“They are a threat. There’s no question of that.

“I’ve been gone from there 18 months now. They’ve got a new manager in, new players. Jack is putting his own stamp on the team and you can see with their success that he’s a very good manager.”