Lennon denies Commons rift as critics round on Samaras
Published 21/09/2011 | 05:00
Celtic boss Neil Lennon addressed several key issues on the eve of his side's Scottish League Cup third-round tie, none of which included tonight's opponents, Ross County.
Instead, the Northern Irishman continued to deal with the fallout from Sunday's 4-2 defeat to Rangers, the club's fourth defeat in their last seven outings.
He discussed the Georgios Samaras conundrum, denied there was a row with Kris Commons and conceded that he selected the wrong starting XI at Ibrox.
When Scott Brown's ankle injury flared up again at the weekend, Samaras looked like being the only survivor from last year's Scottish Cup defeat to appear in Dingwall.
However, a rib injury looks like ruling the shot-shy Greek out at a time when his abysmal strike rate (one goal from his last 20 games) is coming under increasing scrutiny.
"I play (Samaras) because I think he is an asset to what we are trying to do, certainly in a venue like Ibrox, and he's proved that in the past," Lennon said. "The reason (the more prolific Anthony Stokes) hasn't started many Old Firm games is due to the physicality of it. We need to get up the pitch at Ibrox and Samaras helps us do that."
Commons, the player who scored 29 times for club and country last season, has failed to start the club's last five matches and wasn't included in the 18 stripped for action against Rangers.
When the player tweeted after Sunday's match that he had been available for selection, conspiracy theories were rife, but Lennon played down talk about a rift between the pair.
"Kris said he was fit but he didn't train on Friday," he said. "He complained of a stiff groin. If you don't train the day before the game and complain of stiffness it puts a seed of doubt in my mind." (© Daily Telegraph, London)