Manager: Players are looking forward to Killie clash
By: Laura Brannan on 26 Oct, 2012 16:00
TALK of Barcelona, UEFA Champions League and the Nou Camp have been put to the back of everyone´s mind now, although as Celtic prepare for Saturday´s return to league business, Neil Lennon, doesn’t want his players to forget about it altogether.
The Hoops boss is immensely proud of his side, who came within seconds of taking a point off the Catalan giants on Tuesday evening, and everyone has received a huge confidence boost from the performance.
Kilmarnock come calling in the SPL tomorrow for the 3pm kick-off, and the manager wants to see his players build on their impressive European performance, and continue their form in the domestic matches.
"The players know they can compete in that company and that will give them a huge shot in the arm," he said, speaking at the pre-match press conference. "To take Barcelona to 93-and-a-half minutes is a spectacular effort.
"They stuck to what we asked them to do, they scored and they looked as if they could trouble Barcelona at times on the counter-attack.
"The loss of Sami was pivotal because he was causing them problems, but there were some tremendous individual performances and a tremendous team performance. They can take a lot of personal and collective satisfaction from it."
The Hoops are unbeaten in the league since their visit to Perth midway through September, and with a string of impressive displays along the way, the manager is pleased with his players at the moment.
"Our performances in the last month – Motherwell, Spartak, St Mirren and the other night in Barcelona – means they are really in a good place at the minute," he continued. "They are all in good condition and they´re all playing with confidence and freedom.
"We are in a good place but we know that can change very quickly and we don’t want this feeling to go."
But despite the good atmosphere around the camp just now, the manager is also cautious of the threat Kenny Shiels´ Kilmarnock will bring.
"The onus will be on us to take the game to Kilmarnock because we´re at home," he said. "We´re top of the league, with a game in hand, and we want to reinforce that position.
"Kenny´s team plays good football, they’ve caused us problems in the past and they will be no different tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Celtic received good news regarding Georgios Samaras after he injured his ankle against Barcelona.
"Samaras had a scan yesterday and it´s not serious," the manager explained. "We´re hoping it will only be 10 days – two weeks and he´ll be fit for the second Barcelona game.
"Georgios is not one to come off so we knew he was in a bit of pain and discomfort. There was a bit of swelling around the ankle but that seems to have settled and the scan showed it´s not too serious.
"Scott Brown trained today – his condition fluctuates. He was starting to struggle as the game went on the other night, and we knew the best we would get out of him would be another 65 minutes. But he´s had no significant reaction from the game on Tuesday.
"Lassad and Filip Twardzik will be another couple of weeks while Dylan McGeouch will be another week."
You can be at Paradise to cheer on the Champions as they bid for three points to retain their place at the top of the SPL table.
Tickets for Celtic´s home match with Kilmarnock this Saturday, October 27 (KO: 3pm) are now on sale, and are priced from £26 adults, £17 concessions and KIDS GO FOR JUST £5!* in a special Hoopy Halloween offer.
Tickets are availalbe to purchase ONLINE, by calling 0871 226 1888**or by visiting the Celtic Ticket Office.
Tickets are also available in the following Celtic retail outlets: Argyle Street, Sauchiehall Street, Clydebank, Coatbridge, East Kilbride.
*Selected areas only
** Calls cost up to 10p per minute, telecoms provider dependent. Mobile and other provider charges may vary.