NEIL LENNON is demanding his players regain pole position in the SPL championship – at the earliest opportunity.
The Parkhead boss has made it clear it would be a dangerous tactic to wait until their Champions League group games have ended before Celtic get serious in their title defence.
Lennon is unimpressed by the fact his Bhoys have won only half of their opening 12 games and dropped 14 points to find themselves trailing Hibs by two points.
A win at Pittodrie at lunch-time tomorrow would put them back on top for a brief period at any rate. But while Lennon appreciates playing massive Champions League games in midweeks has taken its toll in terms of energy, focus and results, he is not prepared to wait until the final Group G game is over on December 5 before his men get back on a winning run.
Two draws and a defeat from their last three SPL games is a return Lennon will not accept – and neither is he prepared to tolerate any hint of complacency.
Asked if his side could afford to bide their time before making a serious push to take charge of the title race, Lennon said: "I could look at that.
"And if it takes until the Champions League group games are over, then so be it.
"But I would like to be in a more comfortable position in the league than we are in at the minute. The squad is getting stretched, but that is not an excuse."
The manner in which his side conceded the lead – and dropped two points – late in the game against St Johnstone last weekend still rankles.
The effort exerted in beating Barcelona a few days earlier provides mitigation, but Lennon insists it is up to his players to maintain standards and tempo.
He said: "There were some disappointing performances from players that I want better from, so they have been told."
Lennon anticipates a positive reaction, and said: "With a week's rest, you will see a fresher, better Celtic.
"Aberdeen are going well, the atmosphere will be good, and the players will thrive on that."