Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Celtic boss Lennon hails timely return of enforcer Brown

Celtic manager Neil Lennon hopes the return of Scott Brown can drive his team's title challenge back on track after a run of just one victory in five matches.

Celtic's 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock on Tuesday night was their third consecutive Parkhead stalemate as they again missed the chance to go top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

But Lennon's men were heading for their first home defeat against Kilmarnock for 55 years before Brown replaced Joe Ledley to complete his comeback from a 10-week lay-off with a broken metatarsal.

And his return comes as Lennon prepares to lose Ki Sung-yueng from his midfield for several weeks with the youngster and South Korea team-mate Cha Du-ri going away on Asian Cup duty after Sunday's SPL clash against St Johnstone.

“He's a hugely influential player for us,” Lennon said. “He came on and gave us that extra impetus and drive when we needed it.

“The first thing he did was go in for a really robust challenge and won the ball and lifted the team.

“To have him back is hugely beneficial considering that Ki is going away now.”

However, Lennon will be without striker Gary Hooper who has not broken his leg but could still face six weeks on the sidelines.

A scan yesterday allayed fears Hooper had suffered a broken fibula during the draw against Kilmarnock, but ankle ligament damage could keep him out until February.

A club statement said: “Following an MRI scan, the specialist and the Celtic club doctor confirmed that the player could be out for up to six weeks with a severe ankle strain.”

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