| 10.4°C Dublin

Lennon blasts Hoops

NEIL Lennon will be without skipper Scott Brown as he attempts to lift Celtic after yesterday's 4-2 defeat at Rangers.

The Celtic boss watched his side throw away a 2-1 half-time lead as |the Ibrox side surged four points clear at the top of the SPL with the spotlight and attention switching to Celtic's failings.

Brown was one of the few Celtic players to earn pass marks and was heavily involved in first-half goals by Gary Hooper and Badr El Kaddouri.

The Celtic skipper has been troubled by an ankle injury over the last two seasons and now faces a lengthy period on the sidelines as Celtic face a testing period domestically sandwiched between their Europa League commitments.

Lennon's defence buckled as Rangers applied the pressure after |the interval with the Celtic boss questioning the mentality of his players after a very public capitulation.

“I am angry, full stop, with our overall performance,” Lennon said.

“I wouldn't like to question their character but I had to ask that after the game.

“We didn't compete and it was almost as if the players went out for the second half thinking the game was already won.

“The warning signs were there when Davis hit the bar at the start of the second half but we didn't take any heed and we lost the physical battle.

“We had given them all the instructions that they might have had to weather a bit of a storm, which is what you have to do sometimes but we looked flat in the second half and that is not like us.”


Lennon will have plenty to think |over as he contemplates the\[Shane Hegarty\] long trip to Ross County on Wednesday in the League Cup.

The First Division side caused Celtic one of their biggest ever embarrassments 18 months ago when they beat Celtic 2-0 in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup.

That result looked like costing Lennon any chance of taking over

from Tony Mowbray on a permanent basis – a repeat on Wednesday night would set off a similar reaction with Lennon more aware than anyone that defeat is unthinkable.

Despite yesterday’s setback, |\[Shane Hegarty\]Meanwhile, Celtic captain Scott Brown insists SPL title race is far from over despite their demoralising defeat.

“We are disappointed,” said the Scotland midfielder.

“But it is early in the season and there is still a lot to play for.

“I know we are four points behind but it (a comeback) has happened before. We gave it a shot but we |didn't play as well as we could, we know we can do better.


“We let ourselves down at the start of the second half.

“We were flying at half-time but we didn't come out for the second half.

“It is frustrating that we were in the driving seat then lost two early goals.

“But as I said before, it is early days.”

Brown, though, will have to watch from the sidelines in the next few weeks after manager Neil Lennon revealed he will “shut down” his skipper after he succumbed to his on-going ankle complaint.

The former Hibernian midfielder played down the extent of his injury, saying, “I managed to hurt myself just a little bit but hopefully I will be okay.”