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Lennon is hoping coronavirus won't lead to a crowd ban


Top form: Callum McGregor (left) helped Celtic see off Livingston

Top form: Callum McGregor (left) helped Celtic see off Livingston


Top form: Callum McGregor (left) helped Celtic see off Livingston

Celtic boss Neil Lennon described the prospect of playing games behind closed doors to help prevent further spread of coronavirus as "not ideal" but accepts the broader picture of fixtures being fulfilled.

Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster has warned an outbreak of the virus at even one club could make finishing the season "very difficult".

As of yesterday morning, 11 people had tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland, with the UK figure standing at 163.

The possibility of matches taking place at empty stadiums was flagged up as the football authorities consider what options might be available.

"It's not ideal but they have had to do it in Italy," said Lennon, voted Ladbrokes Premiership Manager of the Month for February. "I don't know what measures are taken elsewhere but we'll have to take a view on that if and when that situation arises.

"It's not ideal. I don't know the financial situations of other clubs but I would say it would be very detrimental to the financial wellbeing.

"I think we are maybe getting a little bit too far ahead of ourselves at the minute and we will have to take it week by week.

"Yes, we want to play the games and obviously we want to play them in front of full houses, that's what football is all about.

"Behind closed doors isn't ideal and, like I say, the club will guide me on how to guide the players and staff on that."

Lennon is having daily briefings with regards dealing with potential problems of the virus.

The former Northern Ireland international said: "There are executive meetings every morning and medical staff are briefed every morning on what shouldn't happen. We've been told not to shake hands with people or stop for selfies or photographs.

"That's not us meaning to be rude or anything like that, it's just to avoid the spread.

"We have to protect the players and the staff here as much as we can. It is very important."

Lennon's award came off the back of five league wins out of five last month which helped the Hoops stretch away from Rangers at the top of the table.

Celtic, unbeaten domestically in 2020, are 13 points clear of their Old Firm rivals having played a game more as they prepare to face St Mirren at Parkhead today.

He said: "It's a measure of the good month that we've had and that's down to the players really.

"They've been magnificent, really consistent, so that's for their performances more than anything I've done.

"While it's great, we've still got a bit of work to do. We are in a good place at the minute and we want to keep the run going as long as we can."

Jim Goodwin's St Mirren are 10th in the standings on 26 points, having lost just three times - against Celtic, Rangers and Livingston - in their last 12 league games.

Lennon said: "Jim has improved them but we are concentrating on our own run. We are at home. I expect St Mirren to be difficult to break down at times but I am hoping we can do that.

"I want a front-foot performance from us, I want us to play aggressively."

St Mirren striker Jon Obika has sent a message to Celtic.

Obika, who has scored 11 goals this season, has warned the Hoops that the Paisley side will take them on with 'no fear'.

"I remember the last game against Celtic at Parkhead and I enjoyed it. We didn't get the points that day, but we played well in that game. We should be confident about going back as there's no fear now," he said.

The game that Obika is referring to ended 2-0 to the Hoops. Perhaps St Mirren are confident after fellow strugglers Hamilton managed to defeat Rangers 1-0 in midweek.

However, there is a currently big difference between Celtic and Rangers.

St Mirren's attitude might play into Celtic's hands.

Should they come and go on the attack, then the Hoops could well pick them off on the break.

However, Celtic won't be taking victory for granted.

Belfast Telegraph