Celtic V St Johnstone at Celtic Park : Match Preview

10 May 2013 06:31
Celtic V St Johnstone - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Lennon flattered by Everton link

Neil Lennon admits it is "nice recognition" if nothing else that he has been linked with the vacant post at Everton.

The Celtic boss was made favourite overnight by several bookmakers to take over from David Moyes who will become the new manager at Manchester United on July 1 following the announcement that Sir Alex Ferguson is to retire at the end of the season.

Cardiff manager Malky Mackay, however, emerged later on Friday as a strong candidate, with Roberto Martinez of Wigan and Swansea's Michael Laudrup also reportedly in the frame.

Speaking at Lennoxtown ahead of Saturday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with St Johnstone at Parkhead, where the champions will be presented with their SPL trophy, the Northern Irishman was asked if he was flattered by his name being linked with Goodison.

"Of course, it is nice recognition," he said. "Roberto Martinez was favourite (on Thursday) and I'm favourite (on Friday), it could be someone else (on Saturday).

"But all it is, is speculation.

"I have a job here, I have a great job, a great set of players, a great support, so I am pretty happy here."

Lennon, who revealed skipper Scott Brown will make a surprise return to the squad on Saturday after recovering from surgery to cure an abductor problem, was then asked if Everton was a big enough job to tempt him to leave Celtic.

He said: "It is a bit of a hypothetical question.

"You are all talking about me leaving here and I never said I was leaving.

"Everton are a huge club, a great club with great history and they just lost probably one of the greatest managers in their history.

"It is flattering as I said to be linked with them but that's all it is, just a link."

The former Celtic skipper insists he can improve on what has been a successful season at the Parkhead club but admits timing in football is everything.

"If I am here next season, that's what you look to do, improve every season and I think we have done," he said.

"I think we have progressed this season on and off the field."

It was expected that Brown would miss the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Hibernian at Hampden later in the month after going under the knife in March.

However, Lennon said: "Brown will be in the squad with a view to playing at some stage (on Saturday).

"His rehab has gone really well, we are delighted with that.

"He has been training the last week to 10 days so he just needs football now."

St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas has told his players their previous record against Celtic will count for nothing at Parkhead.

Saints are unbeaten in three games against Celtic in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League this season and beat them at McDiarmid Park in September.

But Lomas said: "I don't think that counts for anything. It will be a different game.

"We did well in those games but this is a different match.

"We have to be on top of our game, we have to be resolute and we have to play with high energy, and if we get chances then we have to take them.

"But I have been telling the boys all week that you don't get away with being average against Celtic."

Celtic will collect the SPL trophy after the match and there is sure to be a higher-than-average crowd to celebrate the occasion.

But St Johnstone are focused on securing success of their own as they seek a second consecutive season in Europe.

Victory will put them ahead of Inverness before Caley Thistle host Dundee United, but defeat would allow Terry Butcher's side the opportunity to wrap up a Europa League spot.

Lomas said: "It's a massive game. They are collecting the trophy and there will be a partisan atmosphere but we have our own agenda to get a result that keeps the European race alive going into the final game.

"It's a great challenge for the boys to go there - can we ruin their party?"

Lomas, whose side are unbeaten in six games and secured wins over Inverness and Dundee United in their previous two outings, added: "We know it's going to be a tough match but we have been on a decent run of form.

"We are in there fighting and we are trying to take it to the last game of the season."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
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