Celtic boss Lennon downplays pressure ahead of Betfred Cup quarter-final
The Hoops will aim to stretch their winning run in domestic cup ties to 29 matches when they host Partick Thistle.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon does not feel there is any pressure on his players to hold on to their dominance of Scotland’s cup competitions.
But he senses a determination among his players to extend their stranglehold as they look to make it 10 pieces of domestic silverware in a row.
Celtic will aim to stretch their winning run in domestic cup ties to 29 matches when they host Partick Thistle in the Betfred Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Lennon said: “I don’t think there’s any pressure on the players now, in terms of this competition anyway.
“They have won it three years in a row. I don’t know if there’s a huge expectation to win it again. If that is the case, they are well used to it. But no-one is feeling any pressure going into the game.
“We want to play well, we want to keep our form going. A lot of the players here have won three League Cups in a row and we want to keep that run going in both competitions as long as possible.”
Lennon will make changes with Craig Gordon set to replace Fraser Forster in goal. He will also balance the need to give other players some well-earned rest with continuing their momentum.
When asked if he was tempted to make changes, Lennon said: “There’s a temptation and in some areas a necessity as well. It’s fair to say there will be some changes.”
Lennon added: “Craig will play. He hasn’t done a lot wrong but it’s important he gets games and it’s important that we keep him motivated.
“If anything were to happen to Fraser and Craig is under-cooked then that would be remiss of me. Not only does he need to play, he deserves to play.”
Lennon, who will again be without Leigh Griffiths because of a thigh knock, added: “Moritz (Bauer) twisted his ankle so he’ll be a doubt. Christopher Jullien is fine, but obviously we have to take a steer on games coming up as well, for the likes of (James) Forrest, (Scott) Brown, (Callum) McGregor, (Ryan) Christie, (Boli) Bolingoli, they have all been playing a lot of football.
“We would like to play them in every game but it’s not realistic, and there are players champing at the bit to play as well, so we need to try and find the right balance.”
Thistle will make the journey across Glasgow with a new management team after Ian McCall returned to Firhill with Alan Archibald and Neil Scally as his assistants.
“I know Ian very well,” Lennon said. “He’s done a fantastic job at Ayr United. I know this is his second time now at Thistle and I’m sure he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“He’s a very good manager, a very experienced manager and I think it’s a great appointment.
“Also having Alan there as his number two, he knows the club inside out and did a fantastic job managing himself. It’s a very potent combination for Partick Thistle.”