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French trio can be toast of Hoops: Lennon

 

Big plans: Neil Lennon
Big plans: Neil Lennon

By Gavin McCafferty

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has backed his French trio to bring an edge to their Europa League group opener in Rennes tonight.

Lennon feels Christopher Jullien, Olivier Ntcham and Odsonne Edouard could be inspired by the return to their homeland.

Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Month Edouard is certain to start up front for the Hoops, especially with Leigh Griffiths missing with a thigh knock, and returns to France weeks after netting four goals in two games for his country's Under-21 side.

Centre-back Jullien has been passed fit after a weekend head knock and is also sure to play amid injuries for Jozo Simunovic and Nir Bitton. The £7million summer signing from Toulouse has shown real signs of settling into the heart of the defence in recent games.

And Ntcham could feature in midfield as Lurgan-born Lennon bids to devise a formula to cope with a side who won their opening three Ligue 1 games.

The midfielder shone off the bench against Rangers before the international break but was left out of Saturday's win at Hamilton.

Lennon said: "Yes, I am tempted to bring him in, because he's a good player. And the guys coming back to France... Jullien knows the environment very well, Odsonne has been away with the Under-21s and done fantastically well.

"I always think going back to your home country is a great incentive to show the people back home, your family, your friends, how much you have come on and how much you have developed.

"So I think there is a little bit of extra incentive and motivation for these players."

Celtic have scored in all 14 games they have played this season and had much of the play in their away qualifiers, but the French Cup holders are a tougher proposition.

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