Lennon: Target on back of Celts stars

NEIL LENNON has warned his table-topping Celts:

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Neil Lennon expects Celtic's unbeaten run to come under serious threat
Neil Lennon expects Celtic's unbeaten run to come under serious threat

'They're all out to get us'. But it's not a case of rampant paranoia from the Hoops boss.

Lennon is simply flagging up that, the longer Celtic's unbeaten run in the Premiership title race continues, the more they will become a target for clubs desperate to become the first to inflict a defeat on the champions and current table-toppers.

Partick Thistle will be the next to try where, in 18 previous games, the teams chasing Celtic in the title race have failed.

As a result, the Hoops go into the New Year Day Glasgow derby with a commanding 11-point lead.

But Lennon does not want anyone at the club to ease up. And he has decided to use his Hogmanay message to highlight how they are now very much there to be shot at. The Parkhead boss is delighted his side have strung together seven wins in a row in the league, but needs no reminding Championship strugglers Morton, in the League Cup, are the only Scottish side to have defeated the Hoops in any competition this season.

He said: "Of course we are a target, absolutely. Every game from here on in will be like a cup final.

"If we can get past Partick Thistle tomorrow, that will be us half way through the season unbeaten.

"But, coming into the second half of the season, people will be wanting to pop our cherry."

Which will mean his players face a huge test of conviction, nerve and focus as they make the turn for home in the title race.

Lennon is acutely aware of the need to give some of his stalwarts a rest, having also played a dozen Champions League qualifiers, play-offs and group games plus two domestic cup ties.

He wanted to get through a very heavy December schedule when they played seven games in the month, winning every one domestically, but losing heavily to Barcelona in the final European tie of the campaign.

Now, he can give some of the Bhoys who have been waiting in the wings - including Tom Rogic, Teemu Pukki, Nir Biton and Amido Balde - the chance to show what they can bring to the team.

He said: "At Inverness at the weekend, I think I needed my experienced players.

"I am not sure the new boys would have been used to the conditions and the winter here.

"I want to integrate them to it, and we will definitely make changes for Thistle and St Mirren.

"We will be at home tomorrow, and we know what the conditions will be like there.

"For the game away to St Mirren on Sunday, it is always decent playing conditions there as well, so I will be looking to bring in other players there, too."

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