I leaned on Celtic stars to snub cap calls, says Neil Lennon

NEIL LENNON has revealed he spoke to his Celtic stars about withdrawing from international duty and not playing in friendlies while boss at Parkhead.

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Neil Lennon says players were tired due to a gruelling domestic and international schedule
Neil Lennon says players were tired due to a gruelling domestic and international schedule

The former Hoops boss made the admission while hitting out at national FAs over the toll international matches took on players as he juggled a gruelling domestic and European schedule.

Questioned if he had ever asked players not to go and play some international fixtures, Lennon said: "Absolutely. Of course I did. There comes a time in the season when you are playing Champions League, you are playing league games, cup games and then you have friendlies.

"You may have players who have played 40-odd international games already, do they need to go and play an extra game in an Eastern European country?

"They train on the Monday, travel on Tuesday, play on Wednesday and you won't get them back till Thursday or Friday. I have had international players from Japan and South Korea. They leave on the Sunday after the Saturday game and I don't see them again until the Friday, before a 12.30 kick-off, maybe in Aberdeen."

Lennon is currently working as a BBC pundit alongside a number of current and past Hoops stars at the World Cup in Brazil.

And his comments come days after QPR gaffer Harry Redknapp sparked a club v country debate when he claimed certain players asked to be withdrawn from England duty while he was Spurs boss.

The problem of player burn-out is something new Celtic boss Ronny Deila will have to deal with this year, with his World Cup stars not due back in action at Parkhead for some time, even though the squad returned to pre-season action on Tuesday.

One man he won't have to worry about is Kris Commons after the striker decided to retire from international football, but Lennon revealed he tried to change Commons' mind when he withdrew his services from Scotland.

He said: "Kris decided he wanted to stop playing for Scotland, he wanted to spend more time with his family. Now you can read between the lines into that.

"I wasn't too happy with his decision, I tried to talk him out of it but you have to respect his decision in the end. He went on to have a great season for us and was Player of the Year. In the back of my mind I am thinking 'he doesn't fancy doing the travelling for two weeks and making a cameo appearance here and there'."


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