Lennon laughs off invincible Celtic talk

25 December 2013 01:31

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has moved to play down talk of his side going the whole of the Scottish Premiership campaign unbeaten ahead of Thursday's clash with St Johnstone.

The Parkhead club's 2-0 win over Hearts last Saturday stretched their unbeaten start to the season to 16 games.

Lennon's side, who lost seven games last season on the way to winning their second title in a row by 16 points, are already 10 points clear of Dundee United at the top of the table.

However, the Hoops manager said it was too soon to be talking about completing a season undefeated.

"It is something that people talk about very prematurely," said Lennon.

"I wouldn't say it was impossible but it is a very difficult thing to do so I wouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves on that.

"We are 16 games into a 38-game season so we are not even halfway there, so it is still a lot to ask for.

"What I am pleased about is that we are unbeaten since the start of the season which, considering the amount of games we have had, is a very good effort so far.

"What I want to do in the festive period is to try to increase the gap at the top and give ourselves a bit of leeway going into the break we are taking in January and be ready to go again.

"We are still a very long way from where we want to be and the Champions League showed that."

Celtic face St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Thursday before another tough trip to Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Sunday.

And Lennon believes these matches could be two of their stiffest tests of the season.

"We have two very tough games coming up, St Johnstone away and Inverness away," he said.

"This will really test the players but they are good tests in my view.

"We obviously want to keep the unbeaten run going and try to get a decent performance in both games.

"But St Johnstone at home can beat anyone. They are a very good side and have been very consistent in the last couple of years.

"Tommy Wright has kept the continuity going that Steve Lomas had brought in and look at the resilience they have, they were down to 10 men at Hibs for a long period in their last game and didn't get beat.

"So they are a very tough nut to crack and we know that Inverness are having a great season."

Elsewhere on Thursday, bottom of the table Hearts, without a win in four games, host Kilmarnock, Ross County take on Hibernian, Partick Thistle welcome Inverness CT to Firhill and St Mirren host high-flying Dundee United, who are looking for their sixth straight league win.

Thursday (1500GMT)

Aberdeen v Motherwell, Hearts v Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle v Inverness CT, Ross County v Hibernian, St Johnstone v Celtic, St Mirren v Dundee United

Source: AFP