MOHAMED ELYOUNOUSSI insists the Celtic players owe Neil Lennon a big performance.

And the Norwegian left-sided international forward is also adamant it is FOOLISH to write off this Hoops team, despite some horrendous recent results.

The holders, who have lifted the silverware in the past four years, begin the defence of their Betfred League Cup against Ross County at Parkhead with a two o’clock kick-off at Parkhead this afternoon.

Lennon has watched his team win only twice in their past nine games, an appalling sequence that includes two back-to-back 4-1 Europa League thrashings from Sparta Prague to send the club into Euro oblivion for another season.

On top of that, the champions have slumped 11 points behind Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit in their quest for a tenth successive title – although they do possess two games in hand – and the dodgy defence has leaked an unacceptable 21 goals in nine outings.

HAT-TRICK HERO…Mohamed Elyounoussi celebrates his trio in the 4-1 win at Motherwell.

Elyounoussi, who is on his second successive season-long loan deal from Southampton, is ready to play his part in turning around the club’s fortunes – starting today against the Dingwall side.

The 26-year-old attacker, speaking to the Sunday Mail, said: “Of course, we want to repay the manager’s faith in us.

“Neil was the one who brought me to Celtic and he’s also the one who wanted me back.

“This team IS playing for the manager. We’re also playing for each other and for the club.

“The pressure is always there as a player or manager, it’s a challenge, but we have to rise to it.

“We are 100 per cent behind the gaffer and we’re not concerned about what is being said.

“It is foolish to write us off. We still have belief that we will win and we’re determined to build up some momentum.

“There is no negativity around here. Sometimes if you don’t get a result, people start to see things and criticise. You need a strong mentality, but we’re moving forwards as a team.”

SIGN OF THE TIMES…Mohamed Elyounoussi with his speical celebration.

Elyounoussi, who has netted 12 goals during a troubled campaign, added: “It’s a long season. There are so many games to play, so many points to play for – so I’m not concerned. So many things can happen and we’re still in there.

“The players spoke after the game in Prague, there was a healthy dialogue between us. Everyone said what they were thinking.

“We’re still the same players who did so well last season. When I look around me in the dressing-room, I just see quality.

“Now, we just need to bring that out on the field.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Ross County this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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