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‘I’VE GOT A LOT OF BELIEF,’ LENNY

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JUBILANT Neil Lennon hopes Celtic’s hard-fought 3-2 win over Lille last night can be the springboard to success in a turbulent campaign.

The Hoops boss and his players have been on the receiving end of some ferocious criticism after a season that promised so much hovered on the brink of disaster.

The nine-in-a-row champions went into the final Europa League Group H encounter against the slick French outfit with nothing but pride to play for. They had blown their chances of qualifying much earlier with dreadful back-to-back 4-1 defeats against Sparta Prague and followed those losses with a 4-2 drubbing against AC Milan in the San Siro last week.

Lennon played a much-changed side with goalkeeper Conor Hazard making his debut, midfielder David Turnbull, who turned in a Man-of-the-Match display, making his European baptism and anchorman Ismail Soro making a rare appearance.

All three were such a success they have genuine claims to start in the crucial Premiership confrontation with Kilmarnock in the east end of Glasgow on Sunday.

The under-fire gaffer saw his team respond with a rousing performance against a side who had only been beaten once before this term, are sitting second top of La Liga two points adrift of Paris Saint-Germain and had already claimed a 3-0 win in Milan.

Turnbull was the matchwinner as Celtic should a lot of courage to come back twice to gain their victory. Christopher Jullien and Callum McGregor, with a penalty-kick, were their first-half scorers.

Lennon, speaking of the qualities of the Scotland Under-21 international to BT Sport, said: “He’s been excellent, he’s had coronavirus and that laid him up for quite a while, so it was just a question of being careful with him and obviously giving him some game time.

“He did really well when he came on against St Johnstone on Sunday and I thought he had an exceptional game on this occasion, not only his goal, but his all-round play was very good.

“We know what a good, talented player he is and, hopefully, now we’ll see the best of him going forward.”

Lennon continued: “There were a lot of bonuses, Soro, I thought, was excellent. David, Klimala, I thought young Henderson had a fine game, as well.

“It’s the first time Jullien and Duffy have played together and Connor Hazard in goal. So, there’s a lot of pluses tonight, no question.

“We’ll try to win on Sunday and get the mentality right, keep the spirit going. I’ve got a lot of belief, I think there’s a long way to go in the season.

“We’ve been off the boil for whatever reason, but there’s a good vibe about them at the minute, so I want to keep that going and get

“I think sometimes when you look at players and there’s a few of them who have a dip in form at the same time people say they’ve got a bad attitude or they don’t care.

“I don’t see that with these guys. Training was good yesterday and we got the desired result and performance.

“Hopefully, that will be a catalyst.”

Lennon also revealed that he had this match on his mind for Northern Ireland international net minder Hazard to make his competitive debut.

He added: “He’s been knocking on the door training-wise for a long time and I spoke to him maybe two weeks ago and said: ‘I want to give you an opportunity and we’ll probably look at the Lille game’.

“Not a big-pressure game, really, just too see how he adjusts.

“He was excellent, he made a really important save when we were 3-2 up and then great hands at the end of the cross.

“So, we’re delighted with the progress he’s making, he’s another one who’s knocking on the door.”

HAIL THE BHOY DAVID, CELTIC’S MATCHWINNER

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