‘We played with the handbrake on,’ Lenny to play Dembele and Henderson but Shved is unavailable

CELTIC manager Neil Lennon will look to rising stars such as Karomoko Dembele and Ewan Henderson for the final league match of the season against Scottish Cup Final opponents Hearts.

Lenny this morning confirmed that both Kieran Tierney and James Forrest will NOT feature on Sunday and hinted that there will be other regular starters who will be missing from the team at the weekend as he prepares his squad for the Scottish Cup Final the following Saturday.

“Dembele is a possibility for Sunday. He’s training with the squad this week, as is Ewan Henderson. We’ve got boys that are carrying knocks and we don’t feel the need to risk them ahead of the cup final,” Lenny told the media at Lennoxtown this morning.

And The Celtic boss was in a defiant mood when asked about the defeat and the pro performance from his players at Ibrox on Sunday in what was essentially a Dead Rubber match.

“There has to be perspective,” Lenny said. “The players have been brilliant. At times, they’re not going to play well.

“We didn’t stutter over the line at all, the league was won two weeks ago.

“In modern-day football, there’s a furore after one result. We played with the handbrake on on Sunday, we didn’t play well, but it’s in no way terminal. There‘s still so much to look forward to.”

Lenny also commented on Scott Brown who celebrates 12 years as a Celtic player today after his £4.4million move from Hibs.

“Scott is a modern day great. His influence, his quality of play and his personality. He reads the game brilliantly. His athleticism is brilliant. We wouldn’t have won a lot of games without Scott and I think that gets underplayed.”

Lenny also confirmed that Marian Shved is not available for Sunday due to red tape issues but reckons it will be worth the wait because he could be a real impact player next season.

“He trained yesterday and looked great. We unfortunately can’t use him, but he’s a very exciting player and looked right at home with his teammates. He’s the type of player we enjoy at Celtic.”

The manager is clearly looking forward to Trophy Day on Sunday, his fourth and Celtic eight consecutive triumph.

“It’s always a very special occasion and great atmosphere. Ultimately, it’s about Scott Brown picking up the trophy and standing alongside a podium full of players. We’ve done it eight times in a row, which is very difficult to do.”

Hearts are also likely to play a much changes side on Sunday as Craig Levein makes his own plans for Hampden.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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