Sport Soccer

Thursday 19 September 2019

Neil Lennon won't rotate his Celtic side heavily for Hearts test

Celtic manager Neil Lennon faces Hearts in Scottish Premiership action at Parkhead on Sunday (Jeff Holmes/PA)
Celtic manager Neil Lennon faces Hearts in Scottish Premiership action at Parkhead on Sunday (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Gavin McCafferty

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is wary of making too many changes for Sunday's visit of Hearts.

Lennon's side beat AIK 2-0 on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa League play-off in what was their 10th game of the season.

The Scottish champions have another huge week ahead with their European decider in Sweden on Thursday followed by a trip to Ibrox three days later.

But Lennon is looking to continue the momentum rather than rest too many players after his team took their goal tally for the season to 32 on Thursday.

"We will see how the boys are and we may make one or two changes," he said. "But they are playing well, the momentum of the team is good, so I don't want to upset it too much.

"We have made an outstanding start to the league, which has been somehow overlooked. We want to maintain that form, particularly at home.

"You don't want to make wholesale changes. We will see how Hatem (Abd Elhamed) is first of all, and he may come back into our thinking. (Nir) Bitton and (Olivier) Ntcham might come into our thinking.

"And Odsonne (Edouard) came off feeling a little bit crampy so we have to assess him as well."

Lennon is also wary of a Hearts team who pushed them all the way in the Scottish Cup final in May.

Celtic needed an Edouard double including a penalty after Ryan Edwards opened the scoring for Craig Levein's men.

"They played brilliantly in the cup final," Lennon said. "It was their cup final as well, it meant as much to them as it did to us.

"We always have tough encounters with Hearts historically and I don't expect Sunday to be any different.

"They had a good win in the cup at Motherwell, and they are a tough team to beat.

"They scored two at Aberdeen and were probably unfortunate not to get a point.

"To go to Pittodrie and score twice you probably expect to get something out of the game and unfortunately for them they didn't so we have to be on our guard, recover and set our sights on maintaining the start we have made, it's vitally important obviously.

"You never know with Craig, he always plans a little surprise for you, he is quite shrewd at times. And we have to be strong at set-plays because they have a good variation."

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