AS auditions go, Neil Lennon must feel as though he has almost made the final callback.

Since taking the Celtic job on an interim basis from Brendan Rodgers in February, each game has seemed like a staging post towards the next big script. His latest afternoon in the spotlight comes today at Hampden against Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen side as he looks to take the

penultimate step towards a triple treble with the Parkhead side.

If the weight attached to the Scottish Cup semi-final seems significant because of the enormity of what is at stake, it is heightened by Lennon’s position. The Celtic manager has warned that “our only enemy will be complacency” but, if the Parkhead side were to slip, it is unlikely that taking anything for granted would be their undoing.

Not when there is so much

expectation around the game.

“Some people will think I have to win both trophies to get the job,” said Lennon. “It is not their decision. It will be my decision and the club’s decision. Two weeks ago I had to beat Rangers or I wasn’t going to get the job. Now I have to beat Aberdeen or I’m not going to get the job. I can’t do anything about that. I have just got to stay in the present and try to win a game of football on Sunday.

“I speak to Peter [Lawwell] more or less every day and I speak to Dermot [Desmond] once a week. We are doing all right and they seem happy with things. I get the style thing but I can’t tweak it or change it overnight.

“It has worked for the players so why would I come in and change it? If I said do it this way it would be alien to them.”

There has been a persistent feeling over the past few weeks that Lennon has been unable to change things that he would like. At one point during the conversation there was a suggestion that his current position feels a little like driving someone else’s expensive car and trying not to leave a scratch and it was difficult not to note the distinction at one stage when Lennon spoke of leading “the” team out at Hampden rather than “his” team.

“They have done the huge body of work,” he said. “I have stepped in only recently and I can’t take a huge amount of credit for what they have done. Well, I can’t take any credit for what they have done so far apart from the quarter-final. I played a part in that and hopefully I am going to play a part in them winning on Sunday. They have got to take all the credit for what they have achieved and what Brendan has put in place.”

That sense of having to stay on his best behaviour seems also to have negated some of the fire that has been the hallmark of Lennon both as a player and as a coach. On the whole he has given the impression of a man wearing a suit that doesn’t quite fit.

Still, though, Celtic have increased their lead at the top of the table since his arrival and are within two games of winning a treble.

“It is remarkable what they are trying to achieve,” said Lennon. “It is inevitable that people are going to talk about the treble treble and the speculation and the noise around it is difficult to shy away from because they are so close to doing it again. But we are trying to take it away and just look to what is another really tough game ahead.

“I don’t think they will need too much firing up. I think the result last week and the criticism, rightly or wrongly, means there will be no complacency going into this game. And to be fair they have handled the competitions perfectly over the last two-and-a-half years.”

This summer will be interesting regardless of who is in charge in terms of the clear-out that seems

inevitable at the club but for Lennon it is the tried and tested who can

be pivotal in ensuring that Celtic

cope with the magnitude of this

afternoon’s game.

“That is huge [having big-game players],” he said. “It is not as if they are going into it for the first time. Plus, there are players coming back. There is a wee bit more freshness about the squad because of that. Ryan [Christie] is coming back, he has had some game time. Tom [Rogic], Olly Ntcham. Callum [McGregor], Kieran [Tierney]’s is an ongoing problem so at times you have got to play them when we know they are not 100-per-cent fit. When I came in there were 11 injuries. That is now slowly but surely whittling down.”

His opposite number, McInnes, suggested this week that Lennon was on a “hiding to nothing” in what he has been asked to cope with at Celtic. Whether it was a cute way of cranking up the pressure or not, Lennon has insisted that the respect between the two managers is authentic.

“I like him a lot and admire the job he’s done and the career he’s had as a manager,” Lennon said. “I’ve been impressed with his whole tenure at Aberdeen and he keeps evolving the squad. He’s stayed loyal when he has had good offers to go elsewhere. I don’t think the Bristol City tenure was any reflection on his abilities. He just had a real rough time of it.

“People on the outside look in and think he was terrible. He wasn’t. He was just working with his hands tied behind his back.”

The suspicion is that Lennon can empathise with that.