For a man whose name is synonymous with Celtic, Neil Lennon might need to be reminded to take the turn into the opposition dressing room at Celtic Park this afternoon. So far as Brendan Rodgers is concerned, however, Lennon remains firmly entrenched in the culture of Celtic to such an extent that he expects if he himself were not in the post that today’s opposite number would be the obvious choice instead.

Lennon was both player and manager at the Parkhead club and was in the running for a second managerial tint at Celtic following the departure of Ronny Deila at the end of April 2016. Lennon was on the shortlist for the job that was eventually offered to Rodgers although the current incumbent of the post believes that his fellow countryman could well be viewed as a Celtic manager in waiting.

“There is no doubt that if I wasn’t manager here, if I was to say who’ll be Celtic manager I would say Neil Lennon,” enthused Rodgers. “There is no question about that. I think the board spoke to a number of people but he was very good in his time here and if it ever comes to him again he would do equally as well if not better.”

Rodgers confirmed that Lennon had sought him out at Reading when he was beginning his own managerial career, a meeting that sparked a friendship between the two that has been sustained throughout the years.

It wasn’t diluted by Rodgers’ beating Lennon to the Celtic post 18 months ago – the two went out to dinner shortly after Rodgers was paraded – and such is the 44-year-old’s respect for Lennon that he revealed a long-standing belief that he can manage in the English Premier League.

Lennon’s finest moment in the Celtic dug-out came when he orchestrated a 2-1 win over a Barcelona side who were widely hailed as Europe’s premier team. But while he is remembered for particular achievements on the park there was a side-story that ran concurrent to it with unsavoury issues emerging to the fore when bullets received in the post resulted in 24-hour surveillance for Lennon.

There was an assault at Tynecastle, events in his managerial time that drew comparisons with the difficulty of his playing career when he was forced to retire from international football after receiving death threats.

It was what he done on the park, however, that prompted Rodgers to conclude during his time on Merseyside that Lennon would have been an ideal fit in a Goodison dug-out.

“He is a winner,” said Rodgers. “He has certain standards that he drives and what’s to meet and he has an incredible football brain. He has played at the level so he knows what it feels like but he also thinks about football. Football is his life.

“He loves football, he is passionate about it. The point where he left Celtic, I was at Liverpool and there was talk then of David then going to Manchester United and I thought whenever Lenny was leaving here that Everton would have been a perfect job for him.

“It never came about, he went to Bolton and it didn’t quite work out. But he has come up to Hibs and invigorated them and you see how well they have done since he came in. As a guy, I have a lot of respect for him. He loves his football. There are all different types of coaches and managers but he is very good at his job.

"I felt Neil was a Premier League manager in waiting. Maybe that's because I know the side of Celtic and what the demands and challenges are at a club like this. I could see how he'd managed that and looked at what could be his next step.

"I understand that after four years here someone then would feel they have to break the cycle. There is huge intensity, not just in the games. This is every day in your life and Neil decided to break that cycle. He went and looked to see if something fresh came up. Maybe because of what happened in the background was the reason he decided to break the cycle for his family.

"I always felt that coming out of here, his destiny would be a Premier League club. Maybe the right offer never came but that was my feeling. He did a really good job.”

While a return to Celtic Park is a possibility at some stage in his career, Lennon remains capable of heading south for another stint in England according to Rodgers.

In that respect the Hibs manager would relish the chance to be the man to pop Rodgers’ bubble as Celtic head into this game having gone unbeaten for 57 domestic games.

"The chance for Neil to go to the Premier League will come again, for sure,” said Rodgers. "Hibs are lucky to have him. They are a great club with a great history and Neil looks like he is enjoying his work there. Neil has a long time left in the game, another 20-odd years if he wants it, and I'm sure that time will come again.”