Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport

Celtic can't afford to let levels drop, says Lennon


Leading way: Neil Lennon wants Scott Brown and Celtic to extend their advantage at the top
Leading way: Neil Lennon wants Scott Brown and Celtic to extend their advantage at the top
Scott Robertson

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has urged his players to keep up the form they showed last Sunday and ensure things do not click into place for Hearts against his side.

The champions maintained their two-point lead in the Ladbrokes Premiership with a comfortable 2-0 win over Hibernian and travel to Tynecastle tonight.

Daniel Stendel has urged the Hearts fans to show more patience and support to the players after they vented their frustration during a 1-0 home defeat by St Johnstone in his first match in charge last Saturday.

The defeat left Hearts in the bottom two but Lennon knows they cannot afford to take their hosts lightly.

"They have got pedigree and quality players and experience, but for whatever reason it's not happening for them," Lennon said. "They have a new manager and he will need a bit of time to bed in his own principles and ideas on how he wants them to play.

"You just don't know what sort of reaction you are going to get. They had a defeat in his first game but we know on their day Hearts can be a handful for us.

"It's our game in hand so it's important we put five points between us and the rest.

"I want us to go and play like we did on Sunday, we played very well against a good side.

"And we know it only takes a flick of a switch to turn things round very quickly where Hearts are concerned, because they have got a decent squad.

"There has been a bit of turmoil and Daniel will need a bit of time to settle down and for the players to get to know him, but hopefully we can capitalise if there is any upset."

Meanwhile, Scott Brown has said that the club have a gem in the form of Scott Robertson.

The 18-year-old made his Bhoys debut in the Europa League defeat away to Cluj last week.

Despite the defeat, Robertson performed well for Celtic and Hoops boss Lennon singled him out for praise after the game.

Brown, who turns 35 in June, is in the twilight of his career.

But the Celtic captain has revealed that he'll do anything he can to help the likes of Robertson progress.

He said: "He's got a lovely touch and he's a great lad, very humble. He works really hard. If I can help in any way I will do, but he's going to have a lot more quality than I ever will and he's shown that in Cluj already."

The defeat at Cluj was a dead-rubber for Celtic, who had already won their group en route to reaching the last-32.

But Robertson and other Lennoxtown graduates might find more first-team chances hard to come by because, well, every game matters for Lennon's side.

The Bhoys are only two points above Rangers in the Premiership, while they'll be challenging for a fourth successive Scottish Cup title in the New Year and the Ulsterman won't have windows for the sort of experiments he conducted in Romania last week.



Scottish Premiership

Tynecastle, Tonight, 7.45pm

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph