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Neil Lennon pleased to have ‘options’ for Celtic’s final date

Celtic v Kilmarnock – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Celtic’s new boys helped the Hoops to a crucial 2-0 win over Kilmarnock but Neil Lennon could return to his stalwarts for the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Hearts.

Conor Hazard  David Turnbull and Ismaila Soro kept their places in the side following the Europa League win over Lille on Thursday and contributed again to the victory, with a deflected strike by Mohamed Elyounoussi and a Shane Duffy header keeping the Hoops 13 points behind Premiership leaders Rangers with two games in hand.

Skipper Scott Brown, Tom Rogic, Ryan Christie were among those on the bench and Lennon will take them and others into consideration when it comes to picking his side for Hampden Park next Sunday, where the champions have a chance to win an unprecedented quadruple domestic treble.

Asked if the guys who came in and made it difficult with regards his team for the final, the Celtic boss said: “Well they have given me options.

“But I’d like to think about the boys who got us there as well. We can’t just write them off, but the lads who have come in have done a terrific job.

“Obviously we will do a lot of work on Hearts, who are really a Premiership team with the quality that they’ve got.

“I will not take it for granted, but we want to win it.”

Lennon was pleased to see defender Duffy, who returned against Lille after being dropped, get among the goals.

He said: “I’m delighted for him. He’s had a lot of criticism since he came here and its probably something he is not used to – the level of it and the volume of it.

“So we gave him a little bit of time out to try to adapt to things, and he has come back in and done really well.

Celtic v Kilmarnock – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park

Shane Duffy (centre) was on target against Kilmarnock (Jane Barlow/PA)

“The club means a lot to him. He has had a difficult time off the field, and this was sort of a fresh start for him, and it probably didn’t pan out for him the way he had envisaged.”

Republic of Ireland defender Duffy, on loan from Brighton, conceded his form had not been up to standard.

He said: “I know my form hasn’t been good enough but I know I can come back stronger.

“The gaffer has been brilliant with me. I actually felt he took me out of the team at the right time because my form wasn’t good.

“He’s done the right thing by me and picked the time to bring me back in.

“I watched the team from the sidelines and (have) seen what I could learn. I feel I’m still getting to know the players and it’s not been easy.

“But it was obvious to see my form did dip.

“The Celtic fans haven’t seen me before and since I’ve come into the club I haven’t been me.

“I get them, I understand the criticism. I wouldn’t be happy with myself either to be honest, if I was watching me play from the stands.”

Celtic v Kilmarnock – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park

Kilmarnock’s second-half display frustrated Alex Dyer (Jane Barlow/PA)

After such an encouraging first half, Killie boss Alex Dyer was less than impressed with what he saw from his players after the interval.

He said: “You don’t win games by just competing in the first half, especially when you come to places like this,. You have to be on it from the  first minute to the last and we weren’t.

“We did well first half, we contained them but in the second half we didn’t come out.

“We didn’t do anything – we could have been three or four down in the first 10 minutes so we were lucky to come away with just 2-0.”