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Neil Lennon defends striker selection as Celtic grind down Motherwell

Celtic v Motherwell – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Ian Rutherford)

Neil Lennon stressed circumstances have dictated team selection following Celtic’s 3-0 win over Motherwell at Parkhead.

The Hoops were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by Ferencvaros on Wednesday night when, to wide criticism, he started without a natural centre-forward while two of them sat on the bench.

Patryk Klimala and Albian Ajeti were again among the substitutes with Ryan Christie leading the line for the visit of the Steelmen and they had to toil until James Forrest drove in the opener five minutes before the interval.

Polish striker Klimala started the second half and Switzerland international Ajeti came off the bench to score the second, with defender Christopher Jullien adding a third in stoppage time.

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Lennon, who has star striker Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths injured, insists he is doing what is best for the club.

He said: “I thought that, in isolation, we dominated Ferencvaros and should have won – we didn’t.

“And then it’s all down to the fact we didn’t play a centre-forward, but none of them are fit enough to start and you can see that today.

“Patryk did 45, he did well, but he was really blowing towards the end and Albian needs conditioning work but you can see how good he is.

“The likes of Edouard and Griffiths aren’t here either, they are injured. Tom Rogic is injured, Mikey Johnston is injured.

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“It was the best team we felt could have picked and today to start the game, we felt it was the right way to go.

“Listen, I make decisions and you live and die off them for what you think is for the benefit of the club. It’s not some sort of ego trip. I have always put the players first and the club first.

“I expected criticism after the game and the volume of criticism is sometimes out of sync and balance. But you learn to live with that and we had a good response today from the players.

“No one is more sore about going out of the Champions League than myself. It’s on my CV now, that result, but I have to park that and move forward.”

The Hoops boss revealed Boli Bolingoli will face further sanctions from the club after breaching coronavirus protocol.

Boli Bolingoli

Boli Bolingoli faces additional punishment for his breach of coronavirus protocols (Jeff Holmes/PA)

The defender was given a three-game ban by the Scottish Football Association, with a further two-match penalty suspended until 28 February, after travelling to Spain and not isolating before playing at Kilmarnock

Lennon said: “There will be a disciplinary sanction from the club as well.

“We will take stock of things over the next week or so and take a decision on what we do.”

Asked if Bolingoli’s career at Celtic was over, he said: “I wouldn’t be so definite but it might be something we think about, that’s for sure.

“We are going to think about it very, very intensely and make a decision in the next week or so.”

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson admits results will have to pick up for Motherwell (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Motherwell remain bottom of the table on two points without a win in six matches but manager Stephen Robinson is confident that better times are on the other side of the international break.

He said: “I am not dismissing it as a start I’m happy with.

“I have been happier with performances on the whole than people might think.

“But I am judged on getting results and winning matches and at this moment in time we are not doing that.

“I don’t think we will get judged on today’s game but after the international break we have games I think we can win and start getting a little run together.”