Team News: Lennon has one eye on Europe

Celtic manager Neil Lennon admits he will take their Champions League qualifier against Helsingborg into account when he selects his team to face Ross County on Saturday.


But he knows he cannot afford to field a weakened team against a side who have not lost in the league for a year. Derek Adams' side extended their unbeaten run to 36 games at Pittodrie last weekend, and have shown how difficult opponents they will be in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League by holding both Motherwell and Aberdeen to goalless draws.

Celtic avenged their 2010 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by County with a 2-0 Scottish Communities League Cup win at Dingwall last September, but they experienced the tight pitch and organised system of County and will know they are in for a tough encounter.

"We played them in the cup last year and coped quite well," Lennon told Celtic TV. "But they are unbeaten in 36 games and that speaks volumes.

"The thing is, with going there so recently we know the environment. I think they have improved their squad and Derek has done a fantastic job.

"But we have got our own agenda and have to win the game and go into the Helsingborg game in good spirit. I've been delighted with the players' attitude and football they have played over the past few weeks, but this will be a different game and we will have to change our mindset a bit.

"They are a proud club, as most of the Highland clubs that have come up are. They want to create their own identity and will see us as a big scalp. If they take that they will know they have arrived in the SPL."

Lennon, who has a number of injury doubts, added: "I'll have half a mind with the Helsingborg game on the Tuesday as well but I'm not going to radically change the team that much. I'll put out a really strong team to win the game."

Striker Daryl Murphy has been ruled out for up to four weeks with a hamstring injury, while Dylan Mcgeouch has had a plate inserted in his jaw following a sickening collision in last weekend's defeat by Real Madrid.

Lennon also had injury concerns over Scott Brown (hip), James Forrest (groin), Anthony Stokes (ankle), Gary Hooper (hamstring) and Paddy McCourt (groin) but they could all be available for the Dingwall clash.

Ross County midfielder Iain Vigurs has dismissed any suggestion that their Scottish Cup triumph over Celtic will have any bearing on the first league meeting between the teams.

Vigurs said: "2010 will always be a great memory but this is the league, this is a completely different Celtic team and Ross County team, so I don't think it will have any bearing on what happens on Saturday.

"People forget things very quickly. As players you can't dwell on games you have won or played well in, or even games you have played badly, because you need to concentrate on the game ahead of you."

Celtic are expected to win the league by some distance this season but 24-year-old Vigurs does not believe they will be streets ahead on any given Saturday.

"Even to pick up a point would be a great bonus for us and a great lift," the former Inverness player said. "Celtic are a massive side, they have got a big budget compared to everyone else, but I don't think teams are too far away. A lot of the sides in the SPL are very good passing sides, just like Celtic, and on their day they can trouble a big team like Celtic.

"It's no different for us. If we are on our day and if they have a bit of an off day there is no reason why we can't have a good game and pick up points. If we do the rest of the teams will sit up and take notice."

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