OLIVIER NTCHAM was singled out skipper-for-the-night Olivier Ntcham for special praise, despite the 2-0 loss against Cluj in Romania last night.

The French midfielder was asked to lead the team in the absence of the suspended Scott Brown while stand-in captain Callum McGregor was left at home to rest before the rigours of five crucial Premiership encounters before the winter break.

Ntcham took on the role with a fair display of gusto and the Hoops boss hailed his performance as “UNBELIEVABLE”.

The Irishman was impressed as 16-year-old Karamoko Dembele, a second-half substitute, made history as the youngest-ever Celt to play in a European tie and Scott Robertson, 18, slotted into the midfield for this first-team debut.

But he switched his focus to Ntcham as he told the Scottish Sun: “Overall, we’ve had an amazing campaign and I’m happy to have used the squad on this occasion because we have so many important domestic games coming up.

“The campaign was done and dusted and we’ve already won a trophy, so I didn’t want to run the risk of injuries.

“I wanted to give others some experience and some will need that 90 minutes for the games coming up.

“I thought Ntcham was unbelievable.

“To give him the captaincy and then for him to take on the responsibility the way he did was excellent.

“I thought his all-round game was absolutely top class.”

Lennon added: “The likes of Griffiths, Bitton, Bolingoli, Bauer and Bayo getting time on the pitch has given them minutes in their legs now.

“These are huge games in the context of our season because the championship is our priority.”

Hibs visit Parkhead on Sunday where a much-changed Hoops line-up will welcome Jack Ross and the Easter Road outfit.



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