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Lennon: We'll sacrifice games to help Hoops' health

CELTIC manager Neil Lennon insists it is worth "sacrificing" some Scottish Premier League matches for the long-term health of his title-winning squad.

Centre-backs Kelvin Wilson and Efe Ambrose and midfielders Kris Commons and Joe Ledley were given the week off before missing Celtic's 3-1 defeat by Motherwell on Sunday.

They will be back in contention for the champions' clash against Ross County on Sunday in Dingwall.

But goalkeeper Fraser Forster, defenders Emilio Izaguirre and Charlie Mulgrew, and forwards Gary Hooper and Georgios Samaras will be missing after being handed an early holiday this week.

Lennon is looking to keep his squad fresh for the Scottish Cup final against Hibernian on May 26, with another eye on their early start to next season with their opening Champions League qualifier scheduled for July 16-17.

Lennon said: "Charlie, Sammy, Gary, Emilio and Fraser will all be getting a break as they won't be getting an opportunity later on and we feel this is the best thing to do for them come the start of pre-season.


"Ross County will be a difficult game – they all are – but I have to think about going ahead, moving on."

Lennon, whose team are 12 points ahead of Motherwell with three matches left, added: "I have to think about the lack of rest they are going to get come the summer. It's been a long, hard season for the players and there will be another long, hard schedule, with the qualifiers coming round so early.

"We are sacrificing a couple of games now with forward planning.

"We are the champions and must not forget that. You don't like losing games but we have to give the squad players an opportunity now that the main games are over."