NEIL Lennon has admitted that retiring the No.5 that Billy McNeill wore during his long and distinguished career would be a fitting way for Celtic to honour his memory, writes Matthew Lindsay.

The Glasgow club unveiled a statue to McNeill, who passed away aged 79 on Easter Monday after a lengthy illness, outside Parkhead back in 2015.

Lennon, current skipper Scott Brown and the first team squad will lay a wreath there tomorrow afternoon before kick-off in their Ladbrokes Premiership game against Kilmarnock.

But there have been calls for the double treble winners to retire the No.5, which is currently worn by Jozo Simunovic, in tribute to the man who was voted their Greatest Ever Captain back in 2002.

Lennon believes it would be a fine tribute to the legendary player who led the Lisbon Lions to their historic European Cup triumph over Inter Milan back in 1967.

Evening Times:

READ MORE: Neil Lennon: I cried when I heard that Billy McNeill had died - he was the greatest

Retiring numbers is a common practice in American sports that has increasingly been adopted by association football in recent years.

No Motherwell player has donned the No10 jersey that the late Phil O’Donnell wore until his tragic death in 2007 since his nephew David Clarkson left Fir Park in 2009.

Asked if he thought Celtic should retire the No.5 in honour of Cesar, Lennon said: “Why not? There will only ever be one Billy McNeill for me. So I think that is not a bad idea at all and hang it up there so everyone can see it.

“We’re going to lay a wreath at the statue before the game. The players should take a moment to take it all in then prepare themselves for a tough game. It will be a celebration even though it will be very poignant.

“It’s beautiful (the statue) and I think it’s really fitting as well. And it’s right in front of Celtic Park which is where it should be.

“We’re all glad that he was there at the unveiling. I’m sure it meant a hell of a lot to him. You never know with Billy as he was so humble and took everything in his stride.”

Brown could be suspended for the Kilmarnock game, as well as the match against Aberdeen at Pittodrie seven days later, as he will face a disciplinary hearing at Hampden this afternoon.

The midfielder has been charged with “not acting in the best interests of football” during his side’s 2-1 win over Rangers at Parkhead last month. “I’d be surprised if Scott gets banned, but if he does we’ll have something lined up for that,” said Lennon.