Champions League - Lennon has no sympathy for Milan

Neil Lennon admits he is struggling to find sympathy for injury-riven AC Milan ahead of their Champions League clash at the San Siro.

PA Sport

AC Milan head coach Massimiliano Allegri described his list of absentees akin to a "wartime news bulletin" for the Group H opener with Kaka, captain Riccardo Montolivo and fellow midfielder Andrea Poli all set to miss the visit of the Scottish champions.

Forwards Stephan El Shaarawy and Giampaolo Pazzini are also out along with defenders Ignazio Abate, Mattia De Sciglio, Matias Silvestre and Daniele Bonera.

The Celtic boss, who revealed midfielder Joe Ledley was a "major doubt" with a groin injury and who will also be without winger James Forrest and midfielder Beram Kayal, said: "It is very unfortunate for him that these injuries have come all at the one time and it is not an ideal situation.

"But I am sure as the season and the campaign progresses Milan as always will get better and stronger.

"I can't look too much into Milan's problem I have to concentrate in my own.

"The fact that he can maybe bring (Alessandro) Matri in to the team, he cost a lot of money, money that myself or my board of directors can only dream of paying for players.

"I can't really offer up a lot of sympathy at this stage for him."

Lennon revealed his admiration for one player who will definitely start for AC Milan, their temperamental striker, Mario Balotelli.

The former Hoops skipper said: "Balotelli is a wonderful footballer.

"Having seen him live for the first time on Saturday (against Torino), he is very powerful, very skilful, takes the ball in under pressure from people and likes to get them turned.

"When he is in full flow he is very quick and strong, can hold defenders off, he is a good finisher.

"People question his temperament but I would have him in my team if I had the opportunity.

"He was very popular in England at Manchester City, he is young, he has so much ahead of him in his career."

Celtic lost in the last-16 of the competition last season to Juventus but Lennon was reluctant to make comparisons between the two Italian sides.

"It is difficult to say," said the Northern Irishman.

"Juventus at the time were the champions and flying high in their domestic league.

"This is very early on in everyone's respective season.

"We hope to catch Milan cold a little bit because their coach probably hasn't had the time to get a consistent run of form.

"But it is difficult to make comparisons between Juventus and Milan."

Lennon believes last season's exploits in the Champions League has, if nothing else, given the bulk of his squad the experience of playing on the top stage of European club football.

"The only thing it will give them is an idea of what they will come up against tomorrow and throughout this campaign," he said.

"There has been a change in personnel within the squad and we are still trying to integrate them but the core of the squad will be stalwarts for this campaign and can take a lot from that experience.

"However, we didn't play Milan last year, they are a different team and different football culture so we have to adapt very quickly to what Milan bring to the game tomorrow."

James Forrest missed the Scottish Premiership win over Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday with an on-going sciatica problem but has also taken ill while Kayal has a groin problem.

New signing Nir Biton met up with his new team-mates in Milan and will come in to contention.

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