Saturday 18 November 2017

Lennon wary of Caley trip

Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon admits Celtic's trip to Inverness in the Scottish Premiership today will have an element of the unknown about it in the shape of new Caley manager John Hughes.

The former Hibernian and Falkirk boss took over the Highland club earlier in the month following the departure of Terry Butcher, who has taken the reins at Easter Road.

However, the Celtic boss is bracing himself for something different from Hughes' side who are in third place, just one point behind Motherwell and with a game in hand over the Steelmen.

"I'm not sure what to expect because it's difficult to replace someone who made the sort of impact Terry did," said lennon.

"He was part of the furniture up there but John has come in and he'll want to hit the ground running. I suppose there's no better game than one against us. But we have our own targets and our own agenda. We'll be as strong as we can and play as strong as we can."

GERS GOING IN RIGHT DIRECTION

Ally McCoist has targeted further progress in 2014 as Rangers prepare to bring down the curtain on what has been another challenging year for the club. Overall, McCoist has been satisfied with the last 12 months but insists Rangers must endeavour to ensure they remain on the right track as their journey back to the top of the Scottish game continues.

"We have been absolutely delighted with the progress made, the transformation has been quite incredible," he said. "But it's going to have to be equally as incredible to keep going and move up the leagues. The performances this year, and the improvement from the start of the season on last year, has been pretty evident. We have been delighted but that will have to continue."

JAMES SALUTES IN-FORM FOXES

Leicester midfielder Matty James believes his side's impressive form over the festive period could prove decisive come the end of the season, although he points out it is far too early to get carried away.

Leicester have picked up seven points from their last three Championship matches against sides who also have ambitions of playing top-flight football next season, drawing with Burnley before beating both QPR and Reading 1-0.

"It's a busy period around Christmas and new year and if you can pick up points it can be key in the promotion push," said James. "We've just got to focus on what we do, there's still a long way to go this season. We just focus on each individual game and try and put in the best performance we can."

UEFA PUNISH 'RACIST' FANS

Manchester United will play greek opponents Olympiakos in a partially closed stadium for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 fixture on February 25.

Uefa has sanctioned the partial closure of Olympiakos' stadium in Pireaus for "the racist conduct of supporters" at a group stage match at home to Anderlecht. The club was also fined €30,000 but is appealing against the decision. Uefa have also issued a similar punishment to Zenit St Petersburg for their home leg against Borussia Dortmund due to the racist behaviour of their fans during their 4-1 defeat at Austria Vienna.

EL SHAARAWY BLOW FOR MILAN

AC Milan striker Stephan El Shaarawy is expected to be out of action for about 10 weeks after undergoing foot surgery yesterday, the Serie A club said.

The Italy international had just returned at the end of November after being sidelined for three months with a thigh injury and then a microfracture to his foot. Milan also denied speculation that striker Mario Balotelli could be on his way out of the San Siro in the January transfer window. The club were responding to rumours that Milan president Silvio Berlusconi planned to sell the player. The controversial former Man City forward moved to Milan in January.

"AC Milan firmly and absolutely deny statements that have been attributed to the chairman about Mario Balotelli being put on the transfer list," the Milan statement said.

CAMEROON IN PLAYER DRIVE

The Cameroon football federation is to send a delegation to Europe in a bid to convince players of Cameroonian origin to make themselves available for selection at next year's World Cup in Brazil.

FECAFOOT said they were focusing on four players who had been capped by France at junior level. The quartet is Axel Ngando at Auxerre, Samuel Umtiti at Olympique Lyon, Jean-Christophe Bahebeck at Valenciennes, and Auxerre's Paul-Georges Ntep de Madiba. "We want to convince them to play for Cameroon, notably in the World Cup but also in the future," the federation said.

"The idea is to clarify their status and then seek FIFA permission to change their nationality."

Irish Independent

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