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Neil Lennon expects tough test from Hamilton

Neil Lennon File Photo
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Neil Lennon’s Celtic side are back on form but he expects a Boxing Day battle at depleted Hamilton.

The Hoops beat Premiership basement side Ross County 2-0 at Parkhead on Wednesday night to make it four wins in row, albeit their William Hill Scottish Cup final victory over Hearts on Sunday was through a penalty shoot-out.

The champions will look to keep the pressure on Rangers, who are 16 points clear at the top of the table having played three games more.

Brian Rice’s side lost 2-0 at home to Livingston on Wednesday to remain four points ahead of County and have 10 players out through either injury or Covid-19 issues.

However, the Parkhead boss believes Accies are always capable of an upset.

Lennon said: “That is Hamilton. They will lose a couple and then win when you least expect them to.

“That is the danger of this game.

“Physically they are a strong team, they are well-drilled defensively by Brian and at set-plays they are a handful so it is going to be a difficult game.

“It is not a foregone conclusion by any means but we know what is at stake. It is always a stuffy game.

“We beat them well (5-1 at home) at the start of the season but what we are looking for is another good performance, another win, but we have to be on our mettle because it is a tough place to go and they will be very motivated to get something from us.

“You have to go there, get your attitude right, play the pitch and conditions the right way.

“We are on a decent wee run at the minute and we have to keep going.”

Lennon refused to look any further than Hamilton, despite an Old Firm game at Ibrox on January 2 looming.

He said: “We are still 16 points behind so we have a lot of work to do.

“There is no point thinking about what is going to happen against Dundee United or Rangers, we have to focus on Hamilton and make sure we get the win and see what happens after that.”

Skipper Scott Brown and defender Shane Duffy missed the visit of the Staggies through injury but Lennon is hopeful of their return for the trip to Lanarkshire.

The Northern Irishman said: “They should be okay. Browny had an abductor strain and Shane had a slight niggle in the hamstring.

“They will be assessed on Christmas Day but particularly Brown should be fine and we are hoping Shane will be okay as well.”