Celtic manager Neil Lennon has dismissed rumours of a bust-up with Kris Commons and insists there is no problem between himself and the player.
The Hoops boss was responding to speculation circulating on the internet this week that the pair had clashed with each other — prompting Commons to play a prank on photographers by turning up for training today wearing a neck-brace, a head bandage and a large plaster across his nose.
Lennon is well aware that his side's recent form is no laughing matter — Celtic have only won six of their last 16 games in all competitions — but is adamant there is no rift with Commons or any of his other players.
He said: “When things start to go wrong, people will start rumours and look for things that aren't there. That's just us laughing at all the speculation and rumours basically.
“There never has been a problem between myself and Kris.
“I think he's a wonderful player, I get on very well with him and I've known him for a long time.
“I know he's going to have a big impact, when he's fit, on the rest of our season. As regards to rumours, if people want to believe them, that's their problem. There's not a lot I can do about it. I can't stop the rumours and I can't stop the speculation.
“But I know what goes on in-house and I know I've got a really good group of players who I'm very proud of. At the minute, they're just not doing themselves justice. It's up to me, I've got to look at my role in that as well and do better and make the players better.
“But I know I've got a very talented group of players and they're not far away from hitting the ground running now.”
After Saturday's goalless draw against Hibernian at Parkhead,
Lennon described some of his players as passengers and threatened to “out” those he believed were lacking effort.
Speaking yesterday, he said: “I'm not going to go over the top on the players. They have been brilliant since I took over.
“It's a short-term problem but I need to rectify it very, very quickly and just get them playing to their potential on a more consistent basis.
“There is no dressing room unrest. We've got a great relationship with them.”
He added: “The fans have been very supportive. At times when I thought we might lose them, they have actually gone the other way and reinforced their support for us.”
Celtic face two massive games this week, which could have a huge impact on both their European and domestic campaigns.
They host Rennes today (8.05pm) in the hope of boosting their Group I prospects in the Europa League, before facing second-placed Motherwell on Sunday, who sit three points ahead of Celtic in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Lennon said: “I take this job very seriously. It means so much to me. I'm a very proud person and I've dealt with things as professionally as possible and will continue to do that.”