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Lennon hopeful Gauld can showcase 'special talent' at Hibs

Neil Lennon expects Sporting Lisbon playmaker Gauld to join Hibs in the next 24 hours.

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon hopes Easter Road can provide the platform for Ryan Gauld to showcase his "special talent".

Sporting Lisbon attacker Gauld is expected to join up with the Easter Road club in the next 24 hours ahead of penning a loan deal for the second half of the season.

The move would see the 23-year-old make his return to Scotland six years after he first burst onto the scene as a highly-regarded prospect at Dundee United.

Across his stint in Portugal Gauld has struggled to force his way into Sporting's first-team plans, instead embarking on a series of loan moves to the lower leagues - the latest of which saw him spend the first half of this campaign with Farense.

Lennon, however, feels the player has grown in stature, both on and off the park, as a result of his move to the continent and hopes Hibs can now reap the benefit.

Speaking to STV in Dubai, Lennon said: "He is flying in hopefully tonight and we can get everything confirmed for tomorrow.

"He's a player I have liked for quite a while.

"I thought he was wonderful at Dundee United under Jackie McNamara.

"He has gone away and I admire that in a young player, going to sample a different culture.

"I think he'll be a better all-round player for it. He will suit our style of play and hopefully Hibs will suit him."

The Northern Irishman added: "He looks good physically, you can see around his shoulders and legs.

"We always remember him as this little boy at Dundee United, he was a pretty special talent.

"He's matured a little bit but I don't want him to lose that natural talent, flair and intelligence he has for the game."

Prospect: Gauld has featured for Scotland at youth level.
Prospect: Gauld has featured for Scotland at youth level. SNS Group

Lennon has moved quickly in the January window to bolster his squad after Hibs endured an underwhelming start to the campaign.

Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Tom Glover has joined up with the Edinburgh side in Dubai and will provide competition to stoppers Ofir Marciano and Adam Bogdan.

Hibs have also been linked with a move for Celtic midfielder Scott Allan. Although Lennon lauded Allan's impact on loan at Easter Road last season, a repeat move is currently not in the pipeline.

"He's a Celtic player," the Hibs boss continued.

"I don't think there have been any talks ongoing between the clubs at the minute.

"He was superb last year, he lit the place up.

"Everything knows what I think of Scott but I can't say more than that really.

Lennon hopes a stint in the sun over the winter break lets his players regroup and refresh ahead of the second half of the campaign.

"Coming here can lift the players, they'll get some quality work which will hopefully set them up for the second half.

"We have substantial ground to make up against good teams so we have to be consistent. Other teams have been consistent, Killie have been superb.

"In terms of the title, there is a title race on. Celtic will be strong and Rangers have sent out a signal of intent.

"It sets up the second half of the season brilliantly."

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