DAVIE HAY: Tynecastle trip's what Celtic require to fire up Hearts and minds

CELTIC will be eager to get back to winning ways at Tynecastle tonight and perhaps prove a point after the weekend defeat at home to Inverness Caley Thistle.

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon will want a reaction to recent poor form in the SPL
Celtic manager Neil Lennon will want a reaction to recent poor form in the SPL

It can be hard for the players to cope with the demands of playing in the Champions League and going for the Scottish Premier League title but Neil will know that they must keep up a certain level of performance and pick up wins, especially at Celtic Park.

One thing that won't be lacking is motivation. Fixtures at Hearts have their own unique atmosphere and you are always up for the games there.

When Celtic have come back from some of their European games, the performances have been flat and so too have been the Parkhead crowd. That kind of thing shouldn't happen but sometimes it does.

That will not be the case for the Hearts game. Tynecastle will be a cauldron and the players will surely be right up for what is a very important game.

The noise and the crowd in Gorgie will ensure that everyone is fired up for this one and Celtic will need to be at their best if they are to get the three points.

I think it will certainly be a different Hoops performance from what we have seen at times this season.

Some of the games at Parkhead have not been great but it is up to the players to lift the fans and get them on side.

The supporters have played a massive part in the Champions League games against Benfica and Barcelona but the players have to inspire them.

The manager has tried to change his team and mix things up at times but it hasn't always worked. He needs the players to respond and to perform at the required level every time they pull on the shirt.

I am sure he will have been frustrated by some of the performances this season and the fact that they have dropped so many points so early in the campaign. Maybe they need to change how they approach games, particularly at Celtic Park and be a bit more direct. They have to start taking some of the chances they are creating, too.

Neil will know that there is a problem and he will be working hard to rectify it, because Celtic cannot go on losing games at Parkhead and dropping points regularly.

In the past, it has happened every so often. It could become a problem for Neil but it is one that I am sure he will fix.

First of all, he will be focused on the Hearts game though and that will be one that he will relish.

There will be a lot of reasons put forward for Celtic's form this season and the loss of Rangers from the SPL will be one that is bandied about. You must not look for excuses, though. You just need to find a fix for the problem.

This time last year, Celtic had dropped a lot of points and found themselves a fair way behind Rangers in the league but they managed to pull it back in some style and won the championship.

You could say that not having Rangers has taken some of the edge off the SPL race this year but the title is the target and that should be enough motivation for the players every time they play.

They have the Champions League campaign, which is great, but they cannot allow the European games to overshadow the SPL fixtures and their bid for a second successive championship.

Yes, these things are all in the air but you cannot allow yourself to become fascinated by them and look for excuses.

At the end of the day, it is all about winning for Celtic. They still have the best squad and they should be winning more games because they certainly have the talent to do that.

There will be reasons why they have not been at their best at times this season and have dropped 17 points after just 14 league games, far more than they would have expected to at this stage of the campaign.

But it is up to Neil and his players to find a solution and I am sure that he will, sooner rather than later.

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