Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football Scottish Celtic

We'll seize advantage if Gers see red again: Lenny

Just champion: Neil Lennon celebrates Celtic's eighth title in a row
Just champion: Neil Lennon celebrates Celtic's eighth title in a row

By Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon has claimed Rangers have a "huge disciplinary problem" ahead of tomorrow's Old Firm at Ibrox and insists Celtic skipper Scott Brown was targeted in their last encounter.

Gers striker Alfredo Morelos was sent off at Parkhead at the end of March for clashing with Brown, the Colombia striker suspended for two matches plus an additional two given previous dismissals.

Andy Halliday received a second yellow card after the final whistle of Gers' 2-1 Ladbrokes Premiership defeat for a clash with the Celtic midfielder and served a one-match ban, while on-loan winger Ryan Kent lost his appeal against his retrospective two-game ban for lashing out at Brown during the game.

Steven Gerrard's side have had 12 red cards this season, and while interim boss Lennon insists going out to exploit any disciplinary issues at the Govan club is "not a tactic that I adopt", he will look to capitalise if the home side lose their heads again in the final Old Firm encounter of the season.

He said: "It's not my problem that they have a huge disciplinary problem and if it manifests itself again on Sunday then we will try to take advantage.

"Yes, they did (target Brown) and they did after the game as well. Scott Brown's a veteran of these games, he has been here 12 years and has played over 500 games. I don't need to tell Scott Brown how to manage himself through a game of football, he does it very well and the bigger the game the more he enjoys it.

"Scott Brown is important. It is a big game and he's a big game player. It is very easy to say Scott Brown will be playing on Sunday.

"We are the champions and have to play and act like champions."

Lennon confirmed that the Celtic players, who clinched their eighth successive Premiership title last week with a 3-0 win at Aberdeen, have had their usual pre-Old Firm match visit from the police but insists there is nothing to concern him.

The former Hoops skipper and full-time manager said: "The normal rules will apply. My players' conduct has been impeccable. I have no issue with the police coming in and routinely telling them what is required. I have every confidence in the discipline of the team."

Celtic go in nine points ahead of their rivals, who won 1-0 when the teams met at Ibrox at the end of last year. However, Lennon, whose side have the chance to scoop an unprecedented triple treble, does not believe the outcome will have any relevance to next season's title battle.

Lennon, put in charge until the end of the season in February after Brendan Rodgers left suddenly for Leicester, said: "If we lose on Sunday it won't have any bearing on the Championship next season at all and if we win it won't have any bearing.

"It is two big teams going at it with pride and for three points more than anything else.

"There is no trophy at stake but it is the next Celtic versus Rangers episode and it is the most important one because it is the next one."

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Celtic fans will be allowed to leave Ibrox immediately after the end of the Old Firm.

Hoops supporters won't be held back inside the stadium after full time tomorrow regardless of the result.

It comes after controversy at the end of the last fiery encounter at Celtic Park which saw Brown accused of "goading" Rangers fans as he celebrated a dramatic 2-1 win.

Just 750 Celtic fans will attend after the club's ticket allocation was cut by Gers last May. They will be allowed to return straight to their cars and buses after the match before being escorted onto the M8 by police.

Bhoys supporters liaison officer John Paul Taylor warned fans to arrive at the ground early or face being locked out.

He said: "Fans are advised to be at the stadium for gates opening at 10.30.

"There will be enhanced ticket checks in place and the safety officer has advised the away section will close as soon as it reaches its capacity so please go along early."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph