CELTIC will need to go in all guns blazing for Sunday’s High Noon showdown against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.
That’s the view of Neil Lennon who has seen his side struggle in their two previous Premiership tussles with Callum Davidson’s outfit this season.
The game in Perth in October was heading for a scoreless stalemate until substitute Leigh Griffiths nodded in a right-wing cross from Kristoffer Ajer in the 90th minute and Patryk Klimala, who had replaced a lethargic Odsonne Edouard before the hour mark, thumped in the second in stoppage time.
The stumbling champions were heading for defeat in December when Chris Kane scored 11 minutes from the end in the return fixture at Parkhead, but Mohamed Elyounoussi flicked in the leveller in an afternoon of frustration in the east end of Glasgow.
It’s been all-change for the nine-in-a-row title kings who opened last season with a seven-goal romp against the Perth side.
Now Lennon has warned his players they will “have to earn the right to play” against their opponents if they hope to clock up their fourth consecutive victory following wins over Kilmarnock (4-0), Motherwell (2-1) and St Mirren (4-0).
The Irishman, speaking to the club website, said: “St Johnstone are a difficult team at times to break down. I thought we should have won the game at Celtic Park, but we conceded a poor goal near the end.
“You don’t take many goals off them this season because they are so well-structured and they had a really good win at Livingston, as well, ending their run, so it’s a tough game for us.”
St Johnstone are preparing to face Livingston in the Betfred League Cup Final a fortnight on Sunday and Lennon added: “I thought they were outstanding in the semi-final against Hibs and they’ve been buoyed by getting to Hampden.
“Callum has put his own imprint on the team and they’re always a tough to beat, but if we go in with a positive frame of mind and the right attitude again, then I’m hoping for another good performance.
“But we’ve got to earn the right to play.”