Lennon wants rivals Rangers to win

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The Independent Football

The reigning Scottish Premier League champions Celtic play Livingston this afternoon – but their midfielder Neil Lennon has been talking about the Champions' League and supporting Rangers.

Lennon, who signed for Celtic last season, is enjoying his first taste of the Champions' League and his side have a 3-1 lead over Ajax before their second leg next week. However, Rangers have a tougher task in Istanbul trying to build on their 0-0 draw against Fenerbahce.

But Lennon wants Rangers to succeed where they – and Scottish football – have failed before. The Northern Ireland international said: ''They have got a difficult task in Turkey but it is not beyond them. If Rangers get an early goal out there, they have got a good chance.

''For Rangers and Celtic to qualify would be a tremendous fillip for the Scottish game because it has taken a bit of a battering over the years.

''Scottish teams haven't really gone far in the European stages. So to have two teams gunning for the Champions League would be special.''

Celtic's manager, Martin O'Neill, who is without winger Bobby Petta, injured playing for the Dutch this week, is only thinking about the league leaders' trip to Livingston.

Livingston are the SPL's surprise side so far, having drawn away to Rangers last week and beaten Hearts. O'Neill said: ''They are a decent side with Premier League experience at the helm. They are a very ambitious club and they have moved mountains in the last couple of years.''

Both Glasgow clubs are still involved in the transfer market, with Celtic set to sell the striker Mark Burchill to Portsmouth. Rangers have finally signed the Everton defender, Michael Ball, for £6.5m, although he will have to wait six weeks to make his debut, due to a knee injury.

Rangers, with Claudio Reyna and Lorenzo Amoruso back in the squad after injury, host Hibernian in this evening's televised game, with the Rangers manager, Dick Advocaat, hailing his Dutch defender Bert Konterman.

Konterman had a torrid time last season on his arrival, but is now playing in midfield to much better effect. Advocaat said: "This season he has worked very, very hard to play at the level he can. He scored two goals last week, which showed it a little bit more, but I think football-wise he was also excellent.''

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