Neil Lennon will be preparing his side at Lennoxtown today for Sunday’s trip to Perth to take on St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership. Celtic usually stay at the Dunblane Hydro before games at McDiarmid Park but that’s not possible in these challenging times, this being just one minor detail on how things are different for the team this season.
We’ll hear from the manager at his Media Conference today – there’s no word on whether any Fans media are going to be invited (we haven’t) and you would think that the new CEO Dominic McKay is scratching his head wondering why the club probably has the most buoyant fans media of just about any club in the UK (Liverpool and Arsenal are probably rivals for that) yet unlike the two Premier League clubs just about completely ignores the fans media – to their own detriment. McKay of course comes from a Communications background and will be unlikely to determine that a media strategy put in place in 2003 is anywhere near fit for purpose from 1 July 2021 onwards. We can only hope.
Lennon has been speaking to Celtic View editor Paul Cuddihy for the official Celtic FC website – the club’s magazine having recently been suspended by the board due to the covid situation. Here the Celtic manager gave his early thoughts on the trip to Perth on Sunday and the challenge his side will face from a ‘well-structured’ St Johnstone side.
“St Johnstone are a difficult team at times to break down. I thought we should have won the game at Celtic Park but we conceded a poor goal near the end from our point of view.
“You don’t take many goals off them this season because they are so well-structured, and they had a really good win at Livingston as well, ending their run, so it’s a tough game for us,” Lennon told the official Celtic FC website.
“But if we keep up on this momentum and the players stay in the top of their form, then we look more like the team we were at this time last year – rampant, strong, quality and that’s all we’re asking from them now.
St Johnstone of course have reached the Betfred Cup Final against Livingston and will be have players trying to impress against Celtic to ensure that that they make the starting eleven at Hampden at the end of the month. But Celtic are trying to maintain their good form and increase their recent winning run since that ‘rock-bottom’ home defeat to St Mirren. Wins against Kilmarnock, Motherwell and St Mirren have seen Celtic score ten goals, losing only one with four goalscorers in the game at Paisley – Tom Rogic, Odsonne Edouard, Ryan Christie and David Turnbull – all gaining in confidence as a result. Rogic for instance probably had his best game since December 2018 in midweek.
So there are grounds for optimism for the Celtic manager whose side won 2-0 against St Johnstone on their last visit last October, although the goals were both in the closing stages. Remember that – when we all thought that the header from Griffiths that broke the deadlock was going to be a significant moment in chasing the Ten?
“It will be a difficult one,” Lennon said as he looked ahead to Sunday’s game. “The two league games we’ve had – they got a good draw at Celtic Park and we left it late up there to win 2-0.
“I thought they were outstanding in the League Cup semi-final against Hibernian, and they’ve been buoyed by getting to the final.
“Callum’s put his own imprint on the team and they’re always a tough to beat at any stage of the season, the way they’re structured – a bit like St Mirren really – but if we go in with a positive frame of mind and the right attitude again, then I’m hoping for another good performance. But we’ve got to earn the right to play.”
Meanwhile Stephen Welsh’s injury from Wednesday night is not as serious as feared and he will have a fitness test to see if he can play at McDiarmid Park. Probably one for him to sit out you’d think. More on that below…
Celtic defender Stephen Welsh has escaped serious injury after being stretchered off against St Mirren.
He has severe bruising on his foot, but no fractures or ligament damage.
It’s understood he will be assessed again tomorrow to determine whether he can play on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/aNJ9jPwHbY
— Anthony Joseph (@AnthonyRJoseph) February 12, 2021