NEIL Lennon has admitted he has no regrets about letting rip at his Celtic players for the first time since taking over as interim manager and is hoping his half-time dressing down produces a stark improvement in their remaining matches.

Lennon has been reluctant to tinker with Brendan Rodgers’ hugely successful winning formula since returning to Parkhead on a temporary basis back in February when his countryman left for Leicester City.

However, the Northern Irishman let his charges know in no uncertain terms what he thought about their lacklustre first-half display in the Ladbrokes Premiership match against Hibernian at Easter Road on Sunday.

Scott Brown and his team mates were much improved in the second-half and only three outstanding late saves from Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano denied them outright victory.

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Lennon, who is hoping to be appointed manager for a second time at the end of the season, felt he was justified making his feelings known and is optimistic Celtic will now start their final four Premiership games and the William Hill Scottish Cup final next month far better.

“I have been at this club and been involved at this club for a long, long time,” he said. “I’m following in great footsteps and maybe it’s not Brendan’s way, the way I approach games.

“I have this reputation as being a hairdryer type manager. Not at all. But there are times when they need to be told and I think today was one of those days.”

Lennon added: “I don’t know if it’s the environment or the circumstances. But this is their title, this is their time and they have to make the most of it. This is a great club they can’t just put in inconsistent performances.

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“They have done brilliantly and on Sunday of all days, after what’s been a spectacular win last week (they beat Aberdeen 3-0 in the cup semi-final at Hampden seven days earlier), it should have been the start of them playing like that consistently.

“But again for the first 20 minutes I thought I was looking at a different team. In the second-half at times we were slow with the build-up or the switches of play. But the game did eventually start to open up and then the gaps started to appear.

“At times the decision-making with the final ball or the pass or the cross or the finish was just lacking. We park that. But we have to work on approaching the games a lot better.”

Meanwhile, Lennon has admitted he was surprised by Olivier Ntcham’s performance against Hibs after being impressed with how the Celtic midfielder had trained in the build-up to the game.

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The Frenchman, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury and was making only his third start this year, struggled before being replaced by Tom Rogic after an hour.

But Lennon said: “He just had one of those days and you don’t expect that from a player of his quality. He looked tremendous in training that’s why we went with him.

"We feel Tom’s not at full fitness yet. Olivier had one of those days but from what we saw in training this week he was ready to play. It certainly isn’t an attitude problem.”