Celtic boss Neil Lennon plans border raid

NEIL LENNON is on his way over the border.

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Scott Brown's performance at right-back impressed Neil Lennon
Scott Brown's performance at right-back impressed Neil Lennon

But, before any Celtic fans panic that he is headed to Norwich to replace sacked Chris Hughton - he has been on the Canaries' radar for several months - the Hoops boss explained he is going to England in search of players who can strengthen the Parkhead side he aims to lead back into Europe next season.

Lennon will take advantage of the fact Celtic have no fixture this weekend while the Scottish Cup semi-finals are being played to focus on matches involving English Championship clubs.

He has specific targets in his sights, with strikers top of his check list. But Lennon also wants to bring himself right up to date with who might be in form and available as he begins to step up preparations to make early attempts to sign players when the window opens.

He said: "I am going to look at a couple of players and see if anyone catches the eye."

The Parkhead boss does not plan major rebuilding in the summer, but explained: "There's going to be a bit of work to be done, a little bit of surgery on the squad. That's what we are aiming for."

Lennon has held talks with major shareholder Dermot Desmond and chief executive Peter Lawwell over the way forward for the club, and his remit is to add the extra pieces of quality which he believes the team needs to safely negotiate the Champions League qualifiers and be more competitive in the Group Stage.

The Hoops boss is getting a good look at what he has in reserve as they are currently carrying their worst injury list of the season, with James Forrest, Mikael Lustig, Adam Matthews, Charlie Mulgrew, Derk Boerrigter, Nir Biton and Darnell Fisher all out.

Lennon is just relieved that they are already over the finishing line in the title race, moving 28 points clear after their 2-0 win over Dundee United at Tannadice on Saturday.

"We've got a lot of good players out, and it just seems to have crept up on us," said Lennon. "I don't know if it is the weight of the season finally catching up with us. But it still shows the depth of the squad we have that we can come out and beat a very good team like United."

Such was the lack of cover at right-back, skipper Scott Brown had to drop there from midfield.

And it is this kind of adaptability which Lennon believes is invaluable to a manager.

He said: "It sometimes is something you look for when scouting players, but they develop that ability to play different positions themselves.

"It comes with confidence and with experience, and Scott has had a fantastic season. What he does to make him able to play different positions is read the game very well.

"At the weekend, with a lack of a right-back, because Mikael is still coming back from his surgery, Adam is recovering from his hamstring and Darnell's knee is being given time to settle, he was best suited of who we had available to play there.

"Going into the game against United, we were thinking they might start Gary Mackay-Steven wide left, and we considered Scott would have been best placed to deal with that scenario.

"We were proved right when Mackay-Steven did come on. It's not ideal to have to play Scott there, and we would dearly love to always have him in midfield, but it is another string to his bow."

Football

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