Tuesday 23 January 2018

Lennon is content to let strikers battle it out

Neil Lennon continued his search for his best striking partnership on Saturday as Celtic beat Hamilton Academical 3-1 to edge ahead of Rangers on goal difference.

For the first time in history in the world's most obvious two-horse race, both teams have opened their campaign with seven straight wins.

There is only one round of fixtures before the big two go head-to-head at Parkhead on October 24 in an eagerly awaited showdown.

Against Hamilton, Lennon opted for the Gary Hooper/ Georgios Samaras partnership, with Anthony Stokes and Daryl Murphy having to be content with coming off the bench.

Hooper scored with a crisp 18-yard drive across Accies keeper Tomas Cerny, but Samaras was at his enigmatic and infuriating best as he drifted down blind alleys and generally did his own thing with most of his work far away from the penalty box.

Stokes replaced Efrain Juarez in the 63rd minute and hadn't touched the ball when Shaun Maloney gave Celtic the lead with a 25-yard free-kick.


"We've healthy competition for the striking places," Lennon said. "They all want to be in the side and have all been scoring.

"When you are going for a championship you need options and competition for places."

Lennon has now won all 15 SPL games that he has been in charge of since taking over from Tony Mowbray.

Another three points away to Dundee United on October 17 will give him the perfect boost to prepare for the Old Firm clash.

Biram Kayal and Thomas Rogne have joined Lennon's growing injury list.

With most of his first team squad on international duty this week, Lennon will use Sunday's friendly with Bohemians at Dalymont Park as an opportunity to give some of his fringe players some game time -- and a chance to see Bohs striker Paddy Madden, a target of Celtic.

The Celtic boss said: "It might allow some game time for Thomas Rogne, Darryl Murphy and Marc Crosas. These guys train every day, even if they're not playing. I'm lucky that the guys who haven't been involved have knuckled down."

Meanwhile, Aiden McGeady came through Spartak Moscow's 1-0 away win to Anzhi Makhachkala yesterday unscathed, while Cillian Sheridan will be in action in the Sofia derby tonight when CSKA travel to face Lokomotiv.

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