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Monday 20 August 2018

Lennon seeks to pile on pressure

Earlier kick-off allows Celtic to increase gap on Rangers

Neil Lennon wants to crank up the title pressure on Rangers by going 11 points clear of the Ibrox side.

Celtic's televised trip to Motherwell kicks off at 12.45pm tomorrow with news from the match instantly relayed to Ibrox where Rangers kick off at 3pm against St Johnstone.

Last week's emphatic Old Firm triumph put Celtic in the driving seat for the title but with 12 games left to play Lennon won't allow his team to bask in the afterglow of beating Rangers.

"Sunday was a great day but it's gone now -- it was only three points," warned the Hoops manager. "We're now fully focused on Motherwell and it's important that we follow up Sunday with another win if we can.

"Our supporters have been starved of a wee bit of joy and entertainment.

"While I'm pleased that they're enjoying the football at the minute, we still have a long, long way to go before anything's achieved.

"I wouldn't say beating Rangers last weekend was pivotal. I had said it wouldn't define the championship.

"Psychologically, it gives our players a massive shot of confidence, not just with the result but because of the manner of the performance as well.

"However we can't get carried away. If we win nothing, then all this counts for nothing. There's been progression and improvement -- but that alone won't be enough."

Biram Kayal has a hamstring strain but would have missed the match through suspension anyway.

Ki Sung-Yeung is likely to replace the Israeli in midfield with Lennon already planning ahead to next season with the signing of Cardiff kid Adam Matthews.

Arsenal and Manchester United have been watching the highly rated teenager but Celtic have signed a pre-contract agreement for a nominal fee because they play under a different football association.



Develop

Lennon admitted: "We've signed Adam Matthews, a good young player who we've liked for a while. Adam's a young player, so we'll need to develop him before we see the best of him."

Meanwhile, Joe Ledley has drawn favourable comparisons between Celtic team-mate Emilio Izaguirre and Tottenham star Gareth Bale.

The Hoops' Honduran left-back has reportedly attracted interest from Manchester United, Aston Villa and Liverpool after a string of impressive performances this season.

"They (Izaguirre and Bale) are similar," said Ledley. "I have played with both of them and both have qualities.

"Gareth Bale is one of the best players in the world at the moment. Emilio is quick, good on the ball, has composure and has a good cross in him.

"It's great to have him at the club and hopefully we can keep him."

Elsewhere, Rangers' Nikica Jelavic is set to return against St Johnstone tomorrow, after he was ineligible for the Europa League game in Lisbon.

Steven Naismith (hamstring) and Jamie Ness (groin) are expected to be out for another two weeks, while Kirk Broadfoot, Lee McCulloch and Andrew Little remain on the sidelines.

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