herald

Saturday 7 December 2019

Lennon wants to keep up standard against Rennes

Celtic v Rennes (BT Sport 3, 8.0)

Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon

Celtic boss Neil Lennon admits having already secured Europa League qualification feels “weird” but is demanding standards remain high against Rennes tonight.

The Hoops play their penultimate Group E fixture at Parkhead with 10 points from four games, top of the section and already in the hat for the last-32 draw.

The Celtic boss is enjoying the absence of a pressurised ‘must-win’ scenario but is looking to extend his side’s eight-game winning run.

“Yes, it’s sort of weird,” said, Lennon, who confirmed French midfielder Olivier Ntcham will start the game.

“I’ve not really been in this position before but we are still driven.

“I don’t want them to come off it at the minute, I want them to stay on the edge and on the level they have been playing at for the last six to eight weeks.

“We go into the game with confidence but no complacency.

“Rennes are dangerous, good pace in the team and counter attack well and if they come and play with a freedom, they could be in for a difficult night.

“We have only made 10 points in a European group before and this is an opportunity to better that.

“If we can win the group it may give you a favourable draw.

“That would be another milestone for this group and it is a big incentive.”

Lennon, speaking after the club’s AGM, was reluctant to get drawn into an extensive conversation about Celtic’s decision to close part of the section of the stadium which hosts the club’s ultras, the Green Brigade.

The Parkhead board took the decision due to one too many fines by UEFA, the most recent one costing the club £12,900 after fans displayed an “illicit banner” and sang obscene chants during their Europa League game at home to Lazio last month.

However, the Northern Irishman admits those fans who are banned will be missed.

He said: “It’s not ideal but you have to think of the health and safety of the supporters and you also have to follow the rules and regulations of the UEFA competition.

“It is a club decision and we feel it is a right decision. I am not going to dwell on it.

“We will miss those fans because they bring so much to the stadium and we hope they come back pretty soon.”

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