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Celtic boss Lennon buoyed by Brown form

By Ronnie Esplin

Hearts 2 Celtic 3: Manager Neil Lennon is glad to have Celtic captain Scott Brown firing on all cylinders going into the Champions League opener against AC Milan at the San Siro on Wednesday night.

The Scotland midfielder (28) struggled last season with an abductor problem which required surgery in March.

A fully-fit Brown has started this campaign in impressive style for club and country and was at his forceful best in the 3-1 Scottish Premiership win over Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday.

The Celtic boss is encouraged by his skipper's form as he prepares for the trip to Italy and also hopes to have winger James Forrest back, after he missed the match against Hearts with an ongoing sciatica problem.

"Scott is outstanding at the minute," said Lennon. "He is playing so well. He's injury-free and when you think that we have lost Gary Hooper, Victor Wanyama and Kelvin Wilson in this summer, to have a fit Scott Brown for the Champions League, which we didn't have last year, is going to make us better."

Lennon was pleased by how well all his players performed at Hearts following the international break.

Kris Commons scored from the spot in the 18th minute after home midfielder Jamie Hamill was penalised for handball, a decision which looked harsh.

Jason Holt equalised in the 56th minute with a deflected drive from the edge of the box but the visitors reasserted themselves and goals from in-form Anthony Stokes and debutant striker Teemu Pukki, on for Commons, took the points back to Glasgow.

Northern Irishman Lennon said: "I thought we started the game well but at 1-0 with the chances we created, you are always likely to concede if you don't put them away.

"I think their goal was deflected but our reaction was fantastic."

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