KRIS COMMONS had the weight of the world on his shoulders – not his hips.

Neil Lennon could see the Celtic midfielder was in a Catch-22 situation as he continually beat himself up about his loss of form.

Now he is a No.1 pick, and also in line to receive a Scotland World Cup call, and the Parkhead boss is delighted to see the renaissance of a man who set Scottish football alight when he arrived here in a bargain £300,000 move from Derby County in January, 2011.

Commons has not only recaptured the form which made him an instant hit, but, in the opinion of Lennon, surpassed it.

The 29-year-old's performances in the SPL and in the Champions League have been of a consistently high standard, and his manager has made it clear that the turnaround is all down to one man – Commons himself.

Lennon is a devoted student of the game, and knows all about the theory of second-seasonitis.

Commons appeared to be a classic case. In his first four months at the club, he scored an amazing 14 goals in just 21 appearances.

But, instead of kicking on the following term, he tripped over his own insecurity, amidst intense criticism he had lost not only his mojo, but his condition.

Fingers were regularly pointed at Commons' shape, amid accusations he was seriously overweight. One goal in 31 games appeared to add substance to the argument.

In tandem with this were whispers – and sometimes more – that a major fall-out with the manager was behind his problems.

But now, with Commons re-establishing himself as one of the most influential players operating in Scotland and making a positive impression on the European stage, Lennon is more than happy to reveal that the only person the player fell out with was himself.

And, rather than his man-ager slugging it out with the player, he was very much in his corner doing all in his power to reassure him he could get back to the high standard he had initially set. Lennon explained: "Last season, Kris was curtailed by injuries and self-doubt, for whatever reason, I don't know.

"Because he had probably set the bar so high in his first season, he was trying so hard to get back there.

"The harder he tried, the worse it was getting. He was in that Catch-22 situation. But I have to say, I think he is playing even better now than he was in his first season."

Lennon had to apply all of his rapidly-acquired managerial skills to help Commons through this difficult time.

Fortunately, he had experience of a similar situation from which to draw, and this allowed the rookie boss to play his part in pointing Commons down the road of recovery.

He revealed: "I understood the reasons why Kris was frustrated, and we did have a few chats about things just to say, 'Look, stop beating yourself up.'

"It was bit like Shaun Maloney. Shaun would be very conscientious, and Kris was always looking for the next breakthrough in sports medical science instead of just letting it flow.

"He may have been thinking about things too much. But now he is just flowing."

If all the problems were in Commons' head, it was ironic that so many people perceived they were all attached to his waistline.

Lennon and his backroom staff were in no doubt he was working as hard as he could on the training ground. They would not accept anything less from any of their players, let alone one with so much to offer the team.

"It's his shape," said Lennon, as he reflected on why accusing fingers were being jabbed towards the midfielder's midriff.

"I suffered from that. People like us, who are sort of squat, have this look about us. But Kris has never been overweight."

Nevertheless, along with every other player in the squad, Commons was sent on his summer holidays with a comprehensive schedule of work designed to ensure he was in the best possible condition when he returned for the new season.

Each programme was specifically tailored to what the medical and fitness team believed would benefit that individual.

"What we wanted Kris to do was work on his cardiovascular, and you can see the improvement in him," said Lennon.

"I was doing stuff like that when I was 34 and 35 and was probably in the condition of my life under Gordon Strachan.

"I was able to play Champions League games and domestic games, even at that late stage of my career.

"I just pointed that out to Kris, and he has really gone away and taken it on board.

"The reason he is now playing so well is that, one, he is a very, very talented player, and two, he is in great condition.

"We could see right away when he came back from the close season that he was sharper, brighter and fitter, and he has carried that on into the season."

Knowing that you are at the peak of your powers has the immediate effect of giving you the confidence to display your vast array of skills.

For a man with the kind of concerns which were inhibiting Commons, feeling good about yourself is key to delivering.

Lennon is a big advocate of the feelgood factor, and said: "It just helps, and not just footballers. In any walk of life, if you are exercising and on top of things, you get up in the morning with a smile on your face.

"Then things just seem a little bit easier and more comfortable. Kris is in a very good place at the minute, and I just want him to maintain that form."

It is that resurgence in form which has seen him back in the thoughts of Scotland boss Craig Levein for the World Cup qualifiers with Wales in Cardiff on Friday and Belgium in Brussels a week tonight.

And that will be very pleasing to his club manager, who, having said his piece on his player previously being snubbed, is content to now restrict his role to continuing to provide the platform on which Commons can make his case not to be left on the outside looking in when future international squads are named.

Lennon said: "Kris values what he has here and a lot of the things are new to him and better for him, in terms of playing European football and winning titles.

"He has worked hard for it, and he is gaining the reward for that at the minute. But, it is a long season, and he knows he has to continue to do what he is doing in terms of working hard and maintaining that form."