Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Neil Lennon urges his title heroes to grasp even more silverware

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 21:  Manager Neil Lennon of Celtic celebrates victory and winning the Championship after the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Celtic Park Stadium on April 21, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Manager Neil Lennon of Celtic
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 21: Manager Neil Lennon (C) of Celtic celebrates victory and winning the Championship with his players after the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Celtic Park Stadium on April 21, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Manager Neil Lennon of Celtic

Neil Lennon is happy to have a growing selection dilemma ahead of Celtic's William Hill Scottish Cup final against Hibernian at Hampden in a fortnight's time.

After resting players at different times over the past few weeks, the Hoops manager had most of his big guns back and ready to finish the season in style, if the 4-0 thumping of St Johnstone at Parkhead on the day the champions were presented with their SPL trophy, was anything to go by.

Lennon also welcomed back Scott Brown and James Forrest from injury. The Celtic captain was in action for the first time in three months following his recovery from surgery to solve an abductor problem and looked as if he had never been away.

Forrest had recovered from a back complaint and scored the third goal of the game after midfielder Joe Ledley and defender Charlie Mulgrew had put the home side on easy street.

Saints defender Frazer Wright headed into his own net in the closing seconds for the fourth.

The last SPL fixture against Dundee United at Tannadice is all but meaningless from Celtic's point of view as Lennon turns his attention to the cup final and the chance to win the double. Asked if his only problem now was picking the starting XI for Hampden, albeit midfielders Victor Wanyama and Beram Kayal will be suspended, the former Parkhead skipper said: "It will be. Everyone is more or less fit now, which is great.

"We have a team in mind obviously, but we have Dundee United and I want to go strong for that game and keep the players ticking over.

"I don't want to rest players any more. They have had a break and I want performances like the one against St Johnstone until the end of the season."

The Lurgan man, who has been linked with the managerial position at Everton when David Moyes moves to Manchester United in July, reiterated why he had allowed some players to go on holiday at different times over the past fortnight.

He said: "It was a necessity because of the short close season that we are going to have.

"Players are going to be playing international football in the first week of June and some even into the second week.

"We have huge (Champions League qualifying) games more or less straight away and they are very difficult to overcome."

The former Northern Ireland international described Brown's performance as "amazing" and he also praised Forrest, whose season has been hit by injuries throughout.

"I just think James is a fantastic player when he plays like that," he said.

"He gives us such an extra dimension, he can play in any position across the pitch and play it so well.

"He gets that five-yard burst away from players but his close control is fantastic.

"It was another exceptional performance from him."

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