22 August 2020 16:30
Neil Lennon reckons Celtic are ideally placed to open their doors to fans again. Lennon is thrilled at his club's plans to get some supporters into Parkhead for the game against Motherwell a week tomorrow. Celtic hope to get the green light for the test event which would see punters finally welcomed into his home stadium to back the team for the first time since the beginning of March. However, even if the Scottish Government delivers a thumbs-up, Lennon has a couple of massive matches in both domestic and European competition to negotiate first. Wednesday's showdown against Ferencvaros in the Champions League qualifiers comes after Celtic go to Tayside on Saturday evening for a crunch Premiership encounter against hosts Dundee United.
Lennon knows Tannadice and the Euro showdown would be 10 times better with punters inside, but although the atmosphere suffers, he says quite simply that performances must not. He explained: "It is surreal and it's really important that we start games well, but it is sometimes difficult to do that when you are not walking out to the same atmosphere. It's brilliant that we have competitive games and the league going again, but it will be even better when supporters are there. "The games we have had at home whether it be Hamilton or Reykjavik, the protocols have been strict and very well organised and run. "It would be great and the sooner the better for all involved in the game.
The manager shuffled his pack with players such as Nir Bitton and Hatem Abd Elhamed impressing having been called up for action and the boss admits he's had welcome headaches picking a team. Lennon said: "I was really pleased with the team, pleased with the boys who came in. The players know who's playing, so we're ready and excited. "It had been a bit stop-start, so it's good to get a little bit of momentum before the international break. Obviously there's Dundee United, then Ferencvaros and Motherwell, so we're looking forward to this week. Tuesday was important and a good morale boosting win going into a tricky week." Lennon said: "He's a centre forward so he can play at both No.9 and No.10. One thing I do know is he's an outstanding footballer and we're delighted to have him whether he plays up front on his own or he plays in a two. "People debate where he's best, but it depends who plays around him as well. Celtic travel to Dundee United for their first league game in 13 days this weekend. Neil Lennon's men returned to action with a 6-0 victory in their Champions League first round qualifier against Reykjavik on Wednesday night and will take on Hungarian champions Ferencvaros in the next round. Here's everything you need to know about Dundee United vs Celtic: Sky Sports Football will show the clash live, with their coverage starting at 5pm. Celtic boss Neil Lennon: "Dundee United have made a pretty impressive start. They've not won at home, but they've had two very good away wins and there's an energy about them. "Blackpool, one season, won promotion when big Sam Allardyce was the manager. He's had a very good career in management. Dundee United are a big club with a great history. Tannadice is a great stadium and we're very much looking forward to the freshness. Betting odds Dundee United win: 12/1 Celtic win: 1/5 Celtic boss Neil Lennon welcomes return of an old foe Celtic manager Neil Lennon supervises training ahead of the clash with Dundee United. In a league where familiarity can sometimes feed monotony, Neil Lennon is relishing the prospect of back-to-back games which he believes foster a feeling of freshness. This evening, his Celtic team will face up to Dundee United, whose stint in the Championship has deprived them of a meeting since January 2016, and they will follow that up with a first-ever head to head with Hungarian champions Ferencvaros in their latest Champions League qualifier, at Celtic Park on Wednesday. And, after the dropped points against Kilmarnock in the last domestic outing, the Parkhead boss is looking for a similar level of performance from players he admits are still shy of their peak. Not only are United recent returnees to the Premiership, they have a man at the helm, Micky Mellon, with limited experience of managing in Scotland, rendering him a different puzzle for Lennon to solve. He was a good player and Blackpool, one season, won promotion when big Sam Allardyce was the manager. "He's also had a very good career in management. I came across him one pre-season when I took Hibs down to play Shrewsbury but I can't remember coming across him too much in our management days." That pre-season meeting saw Lennon take bragging rights but, having watched United's opening matches, he is taking nothing for granted. "Dundee United are a big club with a great history. Tannadice is a great stadium and we're very much looking forward to the freshness – different opposition and a different style of play. "I think Dundee United have made a pretty impressive start. They've not won at home but they've had two very good away wins at Motherwell and Ross County. We're expecting a good examination." "I was really pleased with the team, pleased with the boys who came in," said the Celtic manager, who admitted to an interest in defender Shane Duffy. Conceding that Tom Rogic may be on the way out, Lennon maintained there had been no enquiries for other players. "One thing I do know is he's an outstanding footballer and we're delighted to have him whether he plays up front on his own or in a two. His all-round game is fantastic and his goal the other night was simply brilliant. Neil Lennon on brink of beating Martin O'Neill's Celtic record Current manager to lead club into his 54th European game in charge of the Parkhead side Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire Neil Lennon's place in Celtic history is secure on many counts whether or not he leads the club to a tenth successive title this season. Whatever happens, he is already guaranteed to surpass the number of European games in which Martin O'Neill took charge of Celtic. This week's Champions League first qualifying round victory against KR Reykjavik took Lennon level with O'Neill on 53 games. Next week's clash with Ferencvaros, that famous old name of the European arena, will see him eclipse O'Neill, for whom he played in the 2003 Uefa Cup final v Porto. Lennon has been a manager for 61 games in Europe in total, having also led Hibs on eight occasions in Europa League qualifying rounds. Lennon still has some ground to cover before reaching Stein's total of 71 games with Celtic. But no-one should bet against him doing so. Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Relegated with Partick Thistle in 2018, he had another brush with disaster 12 months later before former club St Mirren survived dropping into the Championship with victory over Dundee United in the play-offs. Jack Ross' Leith outfit have only dropped two points from their first four games and while McGinn knows his team will be under pressure to maintain that run from the Easter Road faithful, he would rather live with that pressure than the suffocating threat of relegation. "But when you're with a team at the top you starting getting that praise – that's just the way football works. "I'm just glad we've had such a good start and not sitting at the bottom looking up the ways for a change. "It's maybe not Celtic and Rangers levels of pressure but we are expected to win most games. He said: "I thought they were the better team on Thursday night.