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Neil Lennon: My boys display no fear


Neil Lennon coach of Celtic

Neil Lennon coach of Celtic

Jeff J Mitchell

Neil Lennon coach of Celtic

Neil Lennon hailed his players as fearless as the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title races enters what is sure to be its tense final weeks.

The Hoops emerged from the hard-fought goalless draw at Ibrox last week still one point behind Rangers at the top of the table but, perhaps crucially, having played a game less.

Lennon is preparing for the visit of Dundee United tomorrow and believes “hunger” and “desire” are also characteristics to be found in the squad he has assembled since becoming permanent boss last summer.

“They don't seem to have any fear,” the Irishman said.

“There have been a few anxious moments throughout the season but for a young group they have shown a lot of maturity.

“There is a good togetherness amongst them and what I like is that they are very hungry and have a real desire to achieve something.

“You could see all that on Sunday.

“We had a word with them at half-time and they came out and showed us what they are all about in the second half and that pleased me more than anything else.

“We liked what we saw in the players but you don't know what sort of temperament or personalities they will have. But thankfully, in terms of luck, we are lucky that they are all pulling in the same direction.

“There have been no real issues or confrontations throughout the season and they have been really together for a long, long time.

“The squad is good, the confidence is good, they are all chomping at the bit to play, and there is a certain amount of freshness about the players as well which is great.”

The former Celtic skipper, however, bristled when asked again about the end to the 2005 season when he was part of the Hoops side which threw away what looked to be an unassailable lead after winning the last Old Firm game of the season.

Martin O'Neill's side left Ibrox following a 2-1 win five points clear of their old rivals with four matches remaining, but lost the title in a dramatic last-day defeat at Motherwell.

“Everyone asks me about that,” said Lennon. “No one mentions 2008 when we won the league on the last day of the season by winning eight games in a row.

“Everyone asks me about 2005. It's funny that.

“But we have talked about both seasons.

“It might well go to the last game of the season, I don't know, but the players are pretty focused and positive at the minute.

“So it (2005) is totally irrelevant to this group of players.

“There are different personalities and different characteristics within the squad.

“The constant is that I'm here with Johan (Mjallby) and Alan (Thompson), we have been through it as players.

“Whether we can pass that experience on to them or not remains to be seen.”

Lennon claims a report linking him to Motherwell striker John Sutton was “speculation”.

The Celtic boss was said to be reportedly considering a summer move for the brother of Chris Sutton, who played alongside Lennon at Parkhead.

Sutton, 27, whose contract at Fir Park is up next month, is top scorer for Stuart McCall's side, who have a Scottish Cup final date with Celtic at Hampden on May 21, the week after the two clubs meet in the final Clydesdale Bank Premier League game of the season.

However, Lennon said: “John is a good player. I've known him for a while. He has had a very good season but it is speculation more than anything else.”

Belfast Telegraph