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Monday 18 December 2017

Lennon hails Keane factor

Neil Lennon is hoping that Robbie Keane can help him secure the manager's job at Celtic on a permanent basis.

The on-loan Spurs striker scored a double against Kilmarnock on Saturday to take his Hoops tally to 11 goals in 11 games, and immediately headed to Lennon to celebrate the opening goal.

Saturday's 3-1 win was exactly what Celtic and Lennon needed after the recent turmoil at the club, which resulted in the sacking of Tony Mowbray.

Lennon has sought assurances about his own position beyond the end of the season, and knows that lifting the Scottish Cup and a winning run in the SPL will put him in prime position to become manager on a permanent basis.

Artur Boruc, Andreas Hinkel and Lee Naylor were brought back into a recast defence, but, once again, it was the class of Keane that made the difference for Celtic.

Lennon admitted: "Robbie is a world-class player. We're lucky to have him. "It's not just about his goals -- his movement and awareness of what's happening is fantastic.

"Before he receives the ball, he's always having a look over his shoulder to see what options and space he has.



stability

"He has a brilliant touch, he's giving 100 per cent for us and fits the jersey.

"At 1-0 coming in at half time, I said to them: 'It's not really a good score. Let's pick up where we left off.' That's a good thing to do in football when you've had a 15-minute break.

"We were a wee bit sloppy on the ball for the first 10 minutes after half-time, but, again, Robbie came up with a wonder goal."

At times, Keane must wonder what he has walked into at Celtic.

Images of title run-ins, packed crowds and team-mates full of confidence couldn't be further from the reality of Celtic 2010, as the club desperately seeks stability on the back of a turbulent year.

Keane has been in the movie before at various times in his career and is adopting as professional an approach as possible to his goal-rich time in Glasgow.

He said: "I've been in this situation many times before and seen changes. As players, we have to be professional and get on with it.

"It's difficult for a coach to come in from the reserves to the first team -- I've seen it before with Chris Hughton and David Pleat.

"It's no one's fault; it's not Lenny's fault that Tony has gone. He has a job to do and it's up to the players now to get behind him and try to move this club forward through to the end of the season.

"We have to take responsibility. Wednesday night at St Mirren wasn't good enough. You can talk about this, that and the other, but as players it wasn't good enough and we have to accept it."

There was no master plan or secret formula to Celtic's performance on Saturday, with Lennon instructing the players to keep it simple, raise the tempo and stick to the basics.

Darren O'Dea seemed to benefit from the new approach. He put in a commanding performance in the centre of defence alongside Josh Thompson, without thoughts of Mowbray's visions of how the beautiful game should be played in the rough and tumble of the SPL.

After the publicity and tension of the last few weeks, Lennon is intent on sticking to the basics as he attempts to make his job permanent.

The stand-in boss said: "I'm not going to get carried away with things; all the hype about how wonderful things are. I have a job to do -- the most important people at the club are the players and the fans.

"I was nervous about going into the unknown for the first time.

"Now I've got a modicum of experience, but I don't think that it will get any easier.

"We've got a difficult game at Hibs on Sunday. I'll give the players a couple of days to rest, get them back on Tuesday and take it from there.

"I'll not be having a series of meetings with them to discuss the way ahead. That's not my style."

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