Lennon has positive 2020 vision after cup victory over Partick Thistle

Neil Lennon was pleased to see Celtic kick off 2020 with a William Hill Scottish Cup win over Partick Thistle.

The Hoops had ended last year with a 2-1 home defeat to Rangers which boosted their Old Firm rivals’ hopes of winning the Ladbrokes Premiership.

After returning from a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, the treble-treble winners were good value for their fourth-round win over their Championship opponents in Maryhill.

Striker Leigh Griffiths, given his first start since last month, opened the scoring in the 12th minute with his first goal since August.

Hoops midfielder Callum McGregor made it 2-0 in the second half with a deflected drive before Jags midfielder Stuart Bannigan pulled a goal back in the final seconds of stoppage time with a contentious penalty.

Looking ahead to a league trip to Kilmarnock on Wednesday night, Celtic boss Lennon told Celtic’s official Youtube channel: “I am very pleased. It was a very good performance.

“I would have liked a more flattering scoreline, I don’t think it reflected the performance but there was a lot of good stuff out there.

“We changed the system due to the personnel out and the lads adapted to it very well.

“They looked fresh, there was a lot of good movement, the first goal was a great goal and I was delighted for Griff to get that.

“Overall, I am very satisfied with the first performance after the break.

“There was good motivation, good tempo, good intensity and concentration.

“In the second half I just thought we got bogged down around a little in the final third where we maybe overplayed at times but Partick made it difficult to break them down at times.

“But overall, good performance, into the next round and on to Wednesday now.

“It will be tough. It is a tough venue and a tough surface so we will get them rested and recovered.”

Lennon should have a stronger squad from which to choose for the trip to Ayrshire, even though Nir Bitton’s injury, which saw him depart early in the game, will have to be assessed.

Replacement defender Jozo Simunovic came off the bench for his first appearance since August following his recovery from a knee injury.

Australian winger Daniel Arzani, on loan from Manchester City, replaced Tom Rogic in the 85th minute for his first appearance since he was injured on his debut against Dundee in October 2018.

Defender Kristoffer Ajer and wingers Mikey Johnston and James Forrest both have a chance of being fit for the Killie clash after missing out with different injuries.

Lennon said: “Nir stretched for the ball and he felt something.

“We are hoping it is not a tear, just a strain.

“It is early days for Daniel, he has been out for a year. It is great for him to be back around the group.

“He had a horrendous injury and he is away from home. You can see a smile on his face which is great.

“I am a big admirer of Jozo and it is great to have him back.”

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