Monday 19 March 2018

Mounting injuries a worry for Lennon

Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon is looking at the pitches at Celtic's Lennoxtown training ground as he seeks answers to his endless injury problems.

Hours before the 3-1 Europa League Group I home over Rennes at Parkhead on Thursday, it was announced that right-back Mark Wilson would be out for three months following knee surgery.

The former Dundee United player joined the Hoops' long-term injury list which includes Kelvin Wilson, Emilio Izaguirre and Scott Brown.

Mo Bangura, Charlie Mulgrew and Joe Ledley also missed the game through injury and Lennon was forced into handing 17-year-old defender Marcus Fraser his debut when Glenn Loovens had to come off at the interval with a recurrence of a hamstring complaint.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow's SPL clash with Motherwell at Fir Park, where he hopes to go level with the second-placed hosts and claw back some of the 12-point deficit to leaders Rangers, the Hoops boss revealed he is considering everything as he looks for solutions to his injury woes.

"We are looking at the surface here," said the Northern Irishman. "It can be quite slippy when it gets wet and it may have an impact on a couple of soft tissue injuries that we have picked up, but you can pick them up at any time.

"We've tempered training a little bit as well and obviously the boys will not be doing much between now and (the match). When you consider the players that we have out with long-term injuries, it has been stop-start in terms of trying to put a team out on a regular basis.

"We were trying to count the players who have not been injured this season and I think we were at four or five out of the whole squad. It is not an excuse, it is a plausible reason.

"We still put out a strong team against Rennes and got a great performance out of them and we are looking for more of the same on Sunday."

Lennon revealed that the news about Wilson could have been worse.

He said: "Mark had a scope yesterday which, believe it or not is good news, because if he had had the micro-fracture he might have been out for six months, whereas he is looking at three months."

Centre-back Daniel Majstorovic believes the constant tinkering of the defence, due mostly to injuries, has led to Celtic's troubles this season.

"Of course, there has been a lot of changes and almost every game we have a totally different back four," said the Sweden defender. "I think that is a reason we haven't performed as well."

Lennon believes the win over the French club, which leaves them two points off section leaders Atletico Madrid with two games remaining, should give his side confidence going to Motherwell.

"They should be feeling good about themselves," he said. "It will give them a huge lift. It was the ferocity of the performance that I liked, and the team work and togetherness."

Motherwell v Celtic, live, tomorrow, ESPN, 12.0

Irish Independent

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