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Forrest absence was a big loss for Celtic: Lennon

Published 16/01/2012

Celtic 2 Dundee United 1: Neil Lennon admits his Celtic side missed the sparkle of James Forrest against Dundee United at Parkhead on Saturday despite returning to the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a 2-1 win.

The Scotland winger has arguably been Celtic's best player this season but was sidelined after being unable to shrug off a virus.

First-half goals by Southampton target Gary Hooper and midfielder Victor Wanyama gave the home side a comfortable interval lead.

But United midfielder John Rankin pulled a goal back five minutes after the break to ensure a nervy second period where Forrest may have been the man to ease the tension.

Lennon, whose side went back two points clear of Rangers who had beaten St Johnstone 2-1 earlier in the day, is hoping the 20-year-old will be back refreshed for the trip to St Mirren next week.

“You can see how much we do miss him,” said Lennon, who, nevertheless, was pleased by his team's overall performance.

“We had no natural winger in the team and, with Kris Commons just coming back from injury, we went with Georgios Samaras on the left.

“It worked okay in the first half but you do miss James' pace and ability on the counter-attack at times and his final ball.”

Belfast Telegraph

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