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Relentless Celts refuse to be beaten, says Lennon

 

Bring it: Neil Lennon believes it will take a big performance to beat Celtic
Bring it: Neil Lennon believes it will take a big performance to beat Celtic

By Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon believes he will take a relentless Celtic side into the Betfred Cup final against Rangers at Hampden Park.

The Hoops have won the last nine trophies in Scotland and go into the keenly-awaited match on the back of 11 straight wins in all competitions.

The most recent victory was a dramatic 2-1 home win over Hamilton on Wednesday night when skipper Scott Brown scored an injury-time winner.

The Light Blues, meanwhile, let a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 with Aberdeen at Pittodrie on the same night, leaving them trailing by two points at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Lennon, in his second spell as Hoops boss, praised the attributes of his side as he spoke at the pre-match press conference at the national stadium.

"There's a relentlessness about them," said the Ulsterman, who believes there is a "very good chance" that striker Odsonne Edouard will be fit after missing the last two weeks with a niggle.

"They refuse to lose, they don't know when they're beaten, so it's going to take a big performance some day, hopefully not Sunday, to end this run of trophies.

"We're motoring on. The core group that have been here for the last three or four years have won these nine trophies.

"There are a few new guys playing in their first final but the experienced boys will prepare them for that, as will the coaching staff.

"It would be a great fillip to win it. We're in brilliant form. It's 11 wins in all competitions.

"We're looking forward to the game but we're not taking anything for granted. We know Rangers are playing very well at the minute as well. It's got all the ingredients of a cracking game."

The former Celtic captain, however, did acknowledge the unpredictability of cup finals.

"Every final is different," he said. "The circumstances going into the game is different. Our selection will be different from Wednesday night.

"It's very difficult to predict how a derby's going to go because it's all on the day.

"Advantages? We've had great experience of winning and playing here a lot so hopefully that'll stand us in good stead."

Lennon is confident that Edouard will be ready to face Rangers and he declared Jonny Hayes (shoulder), Boli Bolingoli (hamstring) and Mohamed Elyounoussi (foot) fit and available.

He said: "They all trained today. With Odsonne in particular it's a day-by-day thing so we'll see how he reacted to training.

"Would I be prepared to take a gamble with Odsonne? No. No one is ever 100 per cent but we'll be guided by our medical staff.

"He trained, did the full session today and looks like he's come through it no problem.

"I'm always encouraged to see a player of that calibre on the training ground and there's no question we're a better team when he's fit and available.

"Of course, it's his call. That's the same with every player coming back from injury and I think there's a very good chance that he will start."

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