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I've braced Bhoys for tough Saints mission: Lennon

 

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Rare sight: Patryk Klimala of Celtic (left) celebrates scoring against St Johnstone

Rare sight: Patryk Klimala of Celtic (left) celebrates scoring against St Johnstone

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Rare sight: Patryk Klimala of Celtic (left) celebrates scoring against St Johnstone

Neil Lennon expects nothing less than a tough test when Celtic take on St Johnstone in Perth tomorrow.

Saints have only lost one game since the turn of the year - a 1-0 defeat to Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers at Ibrox - and won through to the Betfred Cup final with a 3-0 semi-final win over Hibernian at Hampden Park.

Callum Davidson's side brought an end to cup final opponents Livingston's 14-game unbeaten run last weekend with a 2-1 victory in West Lothian.

St Johnstone also grabbed a valuable point in a 1-1 draw at Parkhead in December and it took late goals by Leigh Griffiths and Patryk Klimala to snatch a 2-0 win for the Hoops at McDiarmid Park in October.

Lennon took all of those facts into consideration when he surveyed the trip to Perth.

He is confident following Wednesday night's convincing 4-0 win over St Mirren - the third victory in a row for the first time this year - which took them 18 points behind Rangers with a game in hand.

He said: "They are a difficult team to play against and difficult team to beat.

"Obviously they are buoyed by getting to the League Cup final which is fantastic for them.

"I thought they were great in the semi-final and they ended Livingston's long run, away, which is no mean feat at the minute.

"So yeah, it's a tough game but one we're looking forward to now.

"A lot of the players were looking more like themselves on Wednesday.

"I was really pleased with the all-round team performance, we looked a very good side."

Klimala has not scored since his late counter in Perth and indeed, the 22-year-old Polish striker has been a peripheral figure in Lennon's squad.

The Ulsterman was seen giving the former Jagiellonia Bialystok player - who signed for the reigning Scottish champions just over a year ago - a pep talk before sending him on as a replacement for Odsonne Edouard with 10 minutes remaining against the Buddies.

"Just a bit of encouragement," said the former Celtic captain.

"I just want him to go out and enjoy himself, run the channels, be a threat and get in the box and on the end of things.

"His playing time has been curtailed by the quality we have but he's a good kid, he's got a great work ethic and he just wants to play."

RANGERS v KILMARNOCK

Ibrox,Today, 3.00pm

st johnstone v CELTIC

McDiarmid Park, Sunday, Noon

Belfast Telegraph


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