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Hibernian V Celtic at Easter Road Stadium : Match Preview

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25 Jan 2014 14:31:00

Hibernian V Celtic at Easter Road Stadium : Match Preview

Hibernian V Celtic - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Lennon expects tough Hibs test

Neil Lennon believes Hibernian will want to make a name for themselves by taking Celtic's scalp in their Scottish Premiership clash at Easter Road on Sunday.


The Hoops are looking to extend their unbeaten run in the top flight to 22 games since the start of the campaign as they stride clear at the top of the table.


Terry Butcher made immediate improvements to the Leithers when he took over from Pat Fenlon in November but his side have taken a couple of steps back in recent weeks with losses to St Mirren and Aberdeen which has left them seventh in the table.


However, the Parkhead boss insists the Englishman will have his players fired up even more for the visit of the champions by urging them to be the team that unseats the champions for the first time in the league this season.


"Off the back of surprise defeat at home (to St Mirren), Terry will have them very motivated for this game," said Lennon.


"If you look at their results overall under Terry you can see glimpses of improvement from where they were.


"They have been consistent and difficult to beat, so that was a surprise result last week.


"But as Terry said during the week, there is probably no better game for their players to get their teeth back into, than to play us with the run that we are on and try to be the team that breaks that run.


"Our players are very motivated to keep the run going but then I would say the opposition would be motivated to be the team that stops the run.


"So every game now is a challenge."


Lennon fumed after Celtic's last visit to Easter Road in October describing some of the home side's tackling as "shocking" and "absolutely reckless" after dropping two points in the 1-1 draw.


The Northern Irishman stressed that his side will be ready for whatever former Inverness boss Butcher has in store for them this time although he expects football to dominate.


"I wasn't happy with some of the challenges on the day," said the former Celtic skipper.


"They were borderline over-physical.


"I don't mind the physical side of the game as you know, I was involved in it up here for a long, long time.


"Our players can look after themselves, their discipline is very good.


"If it is a physical game we will deal with that but Hibs have got players who can play as well.


"When you look at Inverness over the years, they always had a physical approach but in the latter time that Terry was there, they had good footballers.


"So I wouldn't tag him as a physical type of manager.


"He likes his teams to press you and get in your face but he has players there who can play football."


Hibernian manager Terry Butcher has denied being beaten to the signature of Adam Rooney - as he never offered the striker a permanent contract.


Aberdeen completed the signing of the Irishman from Oldham on Thursday on a two-and-a-half year deal.


Butcher was interested in his former Inverness player but was unwilling to commit beyond the end of the season and was disappointed with how the competition for the player was portrayed.


Butcher told Hibernian TV: "We were certainly interested in Adam Rooney and I spoke to his agent. Adam was looking for a concrete offer to go for a permanent deal to leave Oldham. He had a year left on his Oldham contract after this season.


"We wanted him to take him on loan until the end of the season. I'm not sure what's going to happen with players at the end of the season, so I didn't want to make any sort of commitment now.


"All I wanted was a loan deal but Adam and his agent wanted a long-term contract and we weren't in the frame when it came to that.


"Aberdeen put forward a very lucrative package, a very, very good package to him, and he has obviously decided to go for a permanent deal rather than come to us on loan.


"I can understand his reasons but we never got down to discussing finance.


"I see headlines that Aberdeen had pipped us to the post but there was no offer there. It never really got off the ground."


Butcher is still hoping to sign someone before the visit of Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic on Sunday but the transfer saga could carry into next week.


"We are very close to getting a deal over the line but we are waiting for a club to confirm that a player can come to us," he said.



PA

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