Skip to main content

Lennon wants Celtic players ready to battle when they face Rangers at Ibrox

Neil Lennon wants Celtic to get ready to battle at Ibrox on Sunday.

The champions travel across Glasgow to face Rangers in their first Old Firm clash of the new season with both teams having won their three opening Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures.

But the Hoops boss has warned his team will have to be ready to match Steven Gerrard’s players in the physicality stakes.

Lennon admits both the team he took to Govan in May and the side managed by former boss Brendan Rodgers back in December failed on that front as the Light Blues triumphed on both occasions.

And he does not want to Celtic to be found wanting again.

The Northern Irishman told CelticTV: “It’s early in the season but both teams are in good form.

“These (early) games are always important, psychologically more than anything else. We haven’t played particularly well the last two times we were there so we have to remedy that if we’re going to get something out of the game.

“You would expect a derby of this magnitude to be physical and competitive and I expect this one to be no different.

“We have good experience, players with experience of this game and you need all of that nous and physicality.

“I don’t think we’ve competed as well the last two times we went there last season so I think that’s important we get to the tempo of the game very quickly and if there are physical battles to be won we make sure we compete.”

Before taking on Gers, though, the Hoops have to finish the job against AIK Stockholm and book their place in the Europa League group stages.

Last week’s 2-0 win at Celtic Park has put Lennon’s team in the driving seat and the manager believes one away goal in Sweden should be enough to kill the tie dead.

Asked what message he would give his team, he replied: “Be mindful, be wary. Try to start the game well and get control.

“With the goal-scoring performances we’ve been putting in we have to be quietly confident that we can go there and score a goal.

“If we can do that the tie should be ours. But there will be difficult moments in the game where we have to show our character and personality. We just have to be prepared for a tough night.”