GLASGOW: Celtic manager Neil Lennon says his players don’t have time to lick their wounds after their midweek League Cup exit as they prepare for a big week for the Parkhead club.
The Hoops were knocked out of the League Cup at the first hurdle following a shock 1-0 defeat by Championship minnows Morton on Tuesday night.
However, the Scottish champions have no time to feel sorry for themselves as they prepare to take on Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday before welcoming Catalan giants Barcelona to Celtic Park for their crucial Champions League clash.
Lennon admitted he was disappointed with the defeat against Morton, who sit second bottom in Scotland’s Championship, which ended his dreams of clinching a first domestic treble and League Cup victory as manager.
But the Celtic manager, who said he had made his disappointment clear to the players in the dressing room, claimed he would have no problem lifting his players for the clash against Killie as they all look to earn a place in his squad for the match against Barcelona.
Lennon said: “It’s a sore one because I wanted to get to the final.
“It’s the only trophy I’ve not won as a manager, but I will get over it pretty quickly. There is so much to play for this season.
“Some of them probably don’t realise yet, the new lads coming in, what it means.
“Certainly the senior boys will be sore.
“But it is no problem picking them up again. We will go to Kilmarnock strong-minded and determined to win the game.
“We have a big, big week coming up again.
“It’s gone for me. I have dealt with it in the dressing room and I’m looking forward to the game on Saturday now.
“There is no conflict in the dressing room. I don’t need to say too much. They already know. It’s unacceptable, that result.” The Celtic manager rested several key players for the match against Morton with one eye on next Tuesday’s match against Barca.
But Lennon said he will look to field his strongest available side at Rugby Park as the Hoops strive to gain the boost of a league win before they return to Champions League action.
Emilio Izaguirre and Georgios Samaras, who were both rested for the cup tie, are expected to be reinstated for the match against Kilmarnock while Kris Commons, Anthony Stokes and Adam Matthews, who came on as second-half subs against Morton, are also in line to return to the starting 11 along with goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
Elsewhere, Hearts will try to halt a run of three straight league defeats when they host Dundee United at Tynecastle, The Jambos, who are nine points adrift at the bottom of the table, will face a tough task against a Dundee United side who are undefeated in three matches.
League leaders Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who suffered their first defeat of the season last weekend, host in-form Hibernian at the Caledonian Stadium. Hibs boss Pat Fenlon was under pressure earlier in the season after a poor run of results but his side are unbeaten in six and have moved up to fifth in the table.
Motherwell, who have won three of their past four league matches, welcome a struggling Ross County side to Fir Park while St Johnstone host newly-promoted Partick Thistle at McDiarmid Park.