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Neil Lennon determined to keep 'quality' Craig Gordon on board

Celtic 2 Hibernian 0

Craig Gordon is currently second choice behind Fraser Forster in the Celtic nets (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Craig Gordon is currently second choice behind Fraser Forster in the Celtic nets (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Celtic's Boli Bolingoli and Hibernians' Jason Naismith

By Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon admits he would be "loath" to lose Craig Gordon after the back-up goalkeeper sat on the bench again while Celtic returned to the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership with a 2-0 home win over Hibernian.

The 36-year-old Scotland international, whose contract is up in the summer, has played second fiddle this season to Southampton loanee Fraser Forster, but took over for Thursday's Europa League dead rubber against Cluj in Romania.

Afterwards he revealed there have been no talks about a contract extension and that he wanted more game time but Forster returned between the sticks against Hibs, with goals from 19-year-old right-back Jeremie Frimpong and French striker Odsonne Edouard taking Celtic two points clear of Rangers, who had leapfrogged them earlier in the day with a 2-0 win at Motherwell.

Lennon described the performance against Hibs as "outstanding, we should have won by a lot more," before addressing Gordon's concerns.

The Parkhead boss said: "I had a wee chat with Craig on Saturday.

"He's a player I'd be loath to let go or want to see go out the door because he's a quality goalkeeper.

"Fraser is the number one currently and if anything happened to him then Craig is a ready-made replacement to step in.

"From a selfish point of view, I want him to stay. He might have his own principles and want to play himself.

"It's a situation not of Craig's making. He's a great pro and I get the fact he might want to play more games."

Out-of-favour winger Scott Sinclair, who also made a rare start against Cluj, has been quoted as saying he wants more minutes at Parkhead.

However Lennon, who hopes to have missing Ryan Christie, Jonny Hayes, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Mikey Johnston back from various injuries for Wednesday's trip to Hearts, said: "I'm not aware of those quotes at all. We will have a chat with Sincy going forwards.

"It's been a difficult period for him because of the quality in front of him at the minute."

The opener came on 39 minutes when Hibs defender Ryan Porteous sloppily lost possession to Edouard, who rolled the ball to Frimpong and the 19-year-old Dutch defender - sent off in the Betfred Cup final win over Rangers last weekend- slipped it through the legs of goalkeeper Ofir Marciano for his first goal at Celtic Park since signing from Manchester City in the summer.

With only a slender lead, anxiety grew among the Celtic fans but that made way for glee when James Forrest, after controlling a deep cross from Boli Bolingoli, cut the ball back for Edouard to knock the ball into the net from eight yards.

Hibs boss Jack Ross revealed he had to replace Marciano with Chris Maxwell for the start of the second-half due to a calf injury.

He said: "It worsened at half-time and we didn't want to take any chances in terms of how that would affect him.

"It is unfortunate because it is not a substitute you expect to have to make and it uses up one and you need all three when you are at this type of venue.

"I have said to the players that I don't want a mindset that we are happy to come to places like this and get a pat on the back and say we were competitive but lost the game.

"But we did remain competitive, so I'm slightly contradicting myself. But we were playing against a good team with good players. I thought they were at it today which meant we had to play reasonably well to stay in the game and we did that."

CELTIC: Forster, Bitton, Jullien, Ajer, Frimpong, Brown, Bolingoli, Ntcham, McGregor, Forrest (Rogic, 84 mins), Edouard (Griffiths, 68 mins). Unused subs: Gordon, Taylor, Bayo, Bauer, Morgan.

HIBERNIAN: Marciano (Maxwell, 46 mins), Halon, Doidge (Horgan, 72 mins), Boyle, Mallan, Stevenson, Naismith, Kamberi, Allan (Murray, 79 mins), Hallberg, Porteous.Unused subs: Sllivka, Jackson, McGregor, Shaw

Referee: John Beaton

Man of the match: Jeremie Frimpong

Match rating: 6/10

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