Celtic V Aberdeen at Celtic Park : Match Preview

22 November 2013 06:01
Celtic V Aberdeen - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Lennon won't curb Brown mean streak

Celtic boss Neil Lennon insists he will "not take the devil out" of Scott Brown despite the Hoops captain getting caught up in another controversial incident while playing for Scotland on Tuesday night.

The midfielder is serving a three-match Champions League ban for petulantly flicking a leg out at Neymar during Barcelona's win at Parkhead, and will complete it when Celtic host AC Milan on Tuesday night.

Brown kicked out at Vegard Forre in Scotland's 1-0 friendly win over Norway in Molde in similar fashion, but it went unpunished before the former Hibernian player grabbed the winner in a 1-0 win.

Ahead of the Scottish Premiership game against Aberdeen at Parkhead on Saturday, the Northern Irishman backed his skipper.

"I didn't see the game and I haven't seen it since then so it is difficult for me to comment on it," said Lennon.

"But he was playing for Scotland and I assume if there was an issue there, which I am not sure there was anyway, Gordon (Strachan) would have spoken to him about it.

"I don't need to speak to him about it. I have already spoken to him about the Barcelona incident and I made my feelings pretty clear on that privately.

"I am not taking the devil out of him.

"I don't want to lose that side of him, as long as he does it within the rules of the game.

"It is part of his make-up, that's what makes him such a good player."

Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas, nowadays a pundit, called in his newspaper column for Brown to grow up but Lennon, who had a "good private conversation" with Joe Ledley about the possibility of the midfielder signing a new contract with the Scottish champions, said: "I didn't see Charlie's comments.

"I am not a big lover of pundits, that's Charlie's opinion."

Lennon claimed the furore surrounding the comments aimed at rivals Rangers by Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell at the club's recent AGM at Parkhead was "a storm in a tea cup".

Lawwell, responding to a Celtic shareholder who asked why the football authorities were still referring to the Ibrox club as Rangers following their liquidation two seasons ago, said "Rory Bremner can pretend to be Tony Blair".

Rangers responded by claiming they would report Lawwell to the SFA but Lennon accused the Govan club of being "over the top" in their reaction.

"It is a storm in a tea cup," he said. "No more than that.

"It was a throwaway remark. I don't know what he meant by it, you will need to ask Peter.

"You have to be so PC these days, regarding a lot of topics.

"I know from my own experience, I have said a few things in the past and suffered from it, if you want to put it that way.

"It is a hoo-ha over nothing."

As for the visit of the Dons, Lennon said: "It is a big game and I want to go into the game on Tuesday with a good performance and keep our unbeaten (league) record going."

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes insists his side go to Celtic Park with justifiable belief they can beat the Scottish champions.

Aberdeen have suffered 16 consecutive league defeats at Parkhead, although they did enjoy Scottish Cup success in the east end of Glasgow in 2008.

The Dons also saw their recent four-match winning streak come to an end with a 3-1 defeat by Scottish Premiership bottom club Hearts.

But McInnes believes there were many positives to take from the game, with Aberdeen one-up when Barry Robson was sent off.

And he feels justified in believing that his players can supplement their recent improvement with a long overdue victory at Celtic Park against Lennon's side.

The former St Johnstone manager said: "It is difficult. I have been there as a player and manager and won but more often than not I have lost games there. The players will be the same but we can win the game and we have to make sure we have that mindset going into the game.

"Celtic have shown a level of consistency. Neil has brought in some new players but they still have that familiarity. They are always difficult to beat, especially at Parkhead, but it's the type of game that myself and the players will look forward to.

"The staff believe in the team, myself included. We believe we can go there and get a result. That's not being naive, I think we have a confidence that when we are right and playing to the best of our ability, we can cause teams problems."

Robson is suspended while his former Celtic team-mate Willo Flood also misses out after suffering his second torn hamstring of the season against Hearts.

Source: PA