NEIL LENNON reckons some of his players are “trying too hard” to get Celtic back on track.

The manager, the board and the team have been on the receiving end of some fierce criticism during a dreadful run that has seen them win only two of the last 12 games as the defence has leaked a disastrous 28 goals during the horror sequence.

The Hoops have been knocked out of the Champions League, the Europa League Cup and the Betfred League Cup – a trophy that has been their property for the past four years – while slumping 13 points behind Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox side although they have two games in hand in their bid for a historic tenth successive title.

The first hint of a crack in the champions’ armour came with the exit from Europe’s premier competition from unseeded Ferencvaoros when they flopped to a shock 2-1 defeat. The unfancied Hunngarians won through to the group stages where they ended rock bottom with one point.

Lennon and Dermot Desmond, the club’s majority shareholder, spotted the red flag in August and brought in outside assistance for regular team and one-to-one sessions and the Parkhead gaffer, speaking to the Daily Record, admitted: “A psychologist comes in two times a month.

“The players have been having individual conference calls, as well. They’ve been working away on a one-to-one basis at times.

“You just don’t know with some players, some of them are very private individuals who don’t give too much away.

“There’s just a bit of anxiety in their play. If anything they are trying too hard.

“They need to try to relax a bit more and play their natural game. Uncertainty can have and affect on players, no doubt about it.”

Lennon, who is preparing his team for tonight’s meaningless Europa League Group H final game against Lille at Parkhead tonight, added: “The training ground is good, there’s a vibrancy there and there has been for a couple of weeks.

“But you can sense they’re feeling the pressure when they go out there on the pitch and we’re trying to take that away from them.

“We want them to concentrate on playing good football and winning games because that’s what they’re best at.

“I’m not saying we’ll win one game and that will be it – you have to work, work, work and that’s what the players are doing and what we’re all trying to do here.

“I don’t think we need to make sweeping, radical changes to the training protocols or processes. It’s just a question of believing in what we’re doing, waiting for that to kick in and then going on a good consistent run after that.”

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

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