Lennon says give it a rest over Celtic Turkey trip

NEIL LENNON will lead his squad to Turkey today, already flying high from surging 13 points clear in the SPFL Premiership.

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Lennon and his team will fly out today
Lennon and his team will fly out today

But the Hoops boss refutes any suggestion his club are disrespecting the league championship by taking their second 'away day' from the action.

At the start of the season, they postponed what would have been only their second game of the championship - against St Mirren - to play Liverpool in Dublin.

Now it's next weekend's match against Kilmarnock which has been put on ice while the Hoops head to Turkey for a week.

Lennon explained: "The players are human beings, and it is a big ask for them to keep going and keep going.

"We had an option to take the break and I decided to take it. The games in Turkey are academic, really. It is basically for rest and recovery for the players because they had maybe a two-week window in the summer, and then they have had 34 games already, plus a lot of internationals for many of them. That's maybe 15 or 16 more than anyone else."

During their stay in Turkey, the Hoops will take part in two matches in the Antalya Cup, against Trabzonspor on Thursday and either

Galatasaray or Ajax next weekend.

When they return in time to face Motherwell on January 18, Celtic will have a maximum of 22 more matches to go this season, depending on how far they get in the William Hill Scottish Cup.

While that's a lot fewer than they played in the first half of the campaign, Lennon reckons it is still a heavy load.

"February looks like being a heavy month for us, as well," he said.

"So this break is very welcome."

The squad were due to fly out this afternoon, but Georgios Samaras will not be among the party.

The Greek, who missed yesterday's 4-0 rout of

St Mirren, has strained a hamstring and will stay behind to recuperate.

Further talks over the new contract the club have offered were held on Friday.

And Lennon reckons Samaras will use this period to ponder his future, with offers understood to have come from England, Europe, the Middle East and across the Atlantic.

The manager said: "He has a lot to think about. It's a big contract for him. He is 29, so the next three or four years of his career are important. We'd like him to be here, but that may not be the case."

Football

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