Lennon: Let's clean up Bhoys

NEIL Lennon today insisted his Celtic defence have put their agonising six-goal mauling by Barcelona firmly behind them.

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Lennon was pleased with another clean sheet against Hibs
Lennon was pleased with another clean sheet against Hibs

And the Hoops boss has challenged his rearguard to increase their clean-sheet tally this term. His backline was helpless to prevent a multi-million pound Barca team running riot in the Nou Camp last week.

Brazilian forward Neymar netted a hat-trick and Gerard Pique, Pedro and Cristian Tello bagged one apiece in an empathic 6-1 triumph.

But the Scottish champions bounced back from the painful defeat to the Catalan superstars in their final Champions League group game with a win at the weekend. And the shut-out his side recorded in the 1-0 victory over Hibs at Celtic Park was particularly pleasing for Lennon.

For his team have only kept clean sheets in 11 of the 29 matches they have played across all competitions during the 2013/14 campaign.

But they have managed not to concede a goal in their last three domestic outings against Hearts and Motherwell away and Hibs at home.

And the Celtic boss is keen for them to extend that run when they play Hearts once again in the league at Parkhead this weekend.

He said: "It is always important for the team to keep clean sheets. That is three in a row now domestically which is obviously good.

"We have certainly shown we are capable of scoring goals, but we haven't kept as many clean sheets as we would have liked this season.

"I think Fraser Forster and the rest of the players want to build on that in the games we have coming up. I would certainly like them to get more clean sheets."

Lennon was delighted that Forster kept a clean sheet in the league meeting with Hibs given the torrid evening he had endured in Barcelona.

The meeting with the capital club was played out in high winds and heavy rain and the England keeper had virtually nothing to do given how much his team dominated.

But he still pulled off vital blocks in both the first and second half as Celtic stretched their unbeaten run in the league to 15 games.

Lennon said: "Fraser made a great save in the first half from a shot he didn't see until late on and he held on to a shot well in the second half.

"But we had to take the game to Hibs. I didn't feel we had a great deal to do at the back."

Meanwhile, Lennon has admitted his lack of cover at centre-half is becoming a serious concern to him.

He has serious injury problems at the moment with Derk Boerritger, Beram Kayal, Mikael Lustig, Steven Mouyokolo, Charlie Mulgrew and Tom Rogic all out.

The Celtic manager has been linked with a move for former player Glenn Loovens during the January transfer window.

The Dutchman is currently signing month-to-month contracts at Sky Bet Championship club Sheffield Wednesday and would be available for a move next month if the opportunity came up.

Lennon said: "My two centre-backs, Efe Ambrose and Virgil van Dijk, have become real stalwarts of the team this season.

"But I could do with giving one of them a break now and again. At the minute, I just can't do that."

Football

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