Celtic boss Neil Lennon praised the character of Kilmarnock counterpart Angelo Alessio ahead of their Ladbrokes Premiership clash on Sunday.
Assistant to Antonio Conte at Italy, Juventus and Chelsea, the Italian had an unconvincing start to his managerial career at Rugby Park after taking over from Steve Clarke, who guided the Ayrshire club to third place in the Ladbrokes Premiership last season and into Europe before departing to take charge of Scotland.
After an embarrassing Europa League qualifying defeat to Welsh side Connah’s Quay Nomads, Alessio’s side picked up just one point from their first three league matches.
However, wins over St Johnstone and Hibernian in their last two league games have eased the pressure ahead of the trip to Parkhead.
Lennon, who revealed striker Leigh Griffiths should be back in contention after a dead leg kept him out of the squad for the 1-1 Europa League draw with Rennes in France on Thursday night, said: “It was a difficult start for him.
“Obviously he is trying to get his own techniques or ideas or practices across to the players but now you can see they are starting to take shape.
“They have had a couple of great results of late and I think that takes a bit of character from the coach.
“I haven’t seen too much of Kilmarnock, obviously Greg (Taylor, new signing from Killie) is here and he can give me a full run down tomorrow of what to expect, but they have had a fantastic couple of seasons and I am sure Angelo will be looking to maintain that.
“Billy Bowie (major shareholder) is quite a shrewd guy. He has done great things there.
“Obviously getting Steve up here was a coup and this could be another one for him.
“Only time will tell but he obviously has great coaching experience of the game and I am looking forward to locking horns with him on Sunday.
“We have always had difficult games against Kilmarnock whether it be home or away. I expect Sunday to be no different really.”
Lennon noted Griffiths’ likely return but also defender Boli Bolingoli’s probable absence after picking up a groin strain in France.
The Northern Irishman said: “We are hoping he (Griffiths) will be OK for the weekend.
“It was a dead leg, he had it scanned.
“I haven’t got the results yet but it is nothing serious or too prolonged.
“Bolingoli is not too serious, hopefully. He will be a major doubt for the weekend and maybe Partick Thistle with a slight groin strain.
“Hopefully, he will be missing one or two games. Greg is in contention.”
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