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Neil Lennon should go back to Celtic says Ex-Rangers boss Graeme Souness

By Graham Luney

Rangers hero Graeme Souness believes Neil Lennon could return to Celtic and help the Scottish giants taste more glory days.

The former Northern Ireland international left struggling Championship side Bolton on Tuesday and many Hoops supporters would love to see him back at Parkhead where manager Ronny Deila's future is uncertain.

Lennon guided Celtic to three Scottish League championships, two Scottish Cups and also steered the club into the group stage of the Champions League twice.

Read more: Neil Lennon will be in demand despite Bolton nightmare

Former Gers player-boss Souness, who was in Belfast yesterday on a tour with the European Championship trophy as a Carlsberg ambassador, believes the Lurgan man could be tempted by a return to Parkhead.

"I don't see that as an impossibility," said Souness when asked if he could see Lennon return to the Hoops as boss.

"Neil had such a good time and is very popular there.

"I was speaking to him this week and I said to him that although he might not feel it now, he will be richer for the experience he gained at Bolton.

Read more: Souness tips his old club Liverpool to finish the job

"It can help him be a better manager.

"Next time he should show more diligence and do a bit more homework on what job he takes."

“Anyone would have been doomed taking charge of Bolton but the Celtic job will interest him.”

Should Celtic lose to Rangers in next month’s Scottish Cup semi-final, Deila’s position would become even more vulnerable but Souness expects him to pass that test.

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“I’m delighted that Rangers are in the semi-finals but I just hope that Celtic do not embarrass them,” added the former Scotland skipper.

“From the top league to the next division down there is always a big jump. Rangers are flying but Celtic are the best team in Scotland and I just hope it’s a competitive game.”

The Belfast Telegraph revealed that Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill is a leading candidate should the Hoops hotseat become vacant and Souness added: “The job Michael has done for Northern Ireland has been outstanding. I would struggle to even name many of their players with Steven Davis and Kyle Lafferty two stand-out performers.

“But he has galvanised this group of players and they have qualified for the Euro 2016 finals which is a hard thing to do. They weren’t in an easy group and only lost once to Romania so it’s a tremendous achievement.

“There’s always a temptation to say it’s all about the players but given the standard of the players he has had to work with, this has to be about the manager and I very rarely say that.”

O’Neill’s troops will not adopt a ‘making up the numbers’ mentality in France and Souness has backed them to ruffle a few feathers.

“With the Northern Irish fighting spirit they will be a handful for all their opponents,” added Liverpool legend Souness.

“It’s not impossible for them to win a game even though they have difficult matches against Poland, Ukraine and Germany. They’ve got to show what they can do and make the fans proud.”

Northern Ireland’s dangerman Kyle Lafferty, who hit seven goals in the qualifying campaign, has become a frustrated spectator at Norwich City — starved of first-team action – but Souness says the Fermanagh man must earn the faith of manager Alex Neil.

“Kyle has got to make sure he does a lot more in training,” he added. “He’s got to put the work in and make sure he’s sharp for the Euros. He’ll need to get up to speed as quickly as possible.”

Souness and his Scottish comrades enjoyed many feisty battles at Windsor Park but the British Home Championship was kicked into touch after Northern Ireland were crowned winners in 1984.

“There’s that much emphasis on the Premier League now and that much money involved that it’s not a tournament that has appeal,” he added. “Unfortunately for Northern Ireland and Wales, it would be all about Scotland and England if that format was ever rekindled.”

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