Lennon taking no chances in cup mismatch
With one eye on Spartak Moscow – and another on somewhere warm and sunny – Neil Lennon will ask his fringe squad candidates to step up at home to humble Arbroath in today's Scottish Cup tie and guarantee that Celtic will be in four tournaments come the new year.
There is also the small matter of improving a record that has seen Celtic win only four of their last 10 games in all competitions – and fail to achieve a victory at Parkhead since they memorably beat Barcelona in the Champions League on November 7.
Spartak come to Glasgow on Wednesday night and if Celtic register a better result than Benfica achieve in Barcelona then Lennon and Co will take their place in the draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League on December 20.
The Hoops manager has stated his intention of saving some important players for the midweek encounter, but he took pains to afford today's Division 2 opponents due respect.
"We'll have a strong team out," said Lennon. "I don't want anyone thinking we are taking this game or the competition lightly and I am not going to change 11 players just for the sake of it.
"I want to progress in this competition and I don't want to throw all my eggs into one basket, but there will be plenty of players having a rest between now and Wednesday."
A major bonus for Celtic is the speedy return of Emilio Izaguirre, victim of a hamstring injury which had seemed likely to keep the Honduran full-back out of action until close to Christmas. (© Daily Telegraph, London)