Lennon denies reports of rift with Commons

 

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The Independent Online

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has dismissed rumours of a row with Kris Commons and insists there is no problem between himself and the player.

Lennon was responding to speculation on the internet this week that the pair had clashed, prompting Commons to play a prank on photographers by turning up for training yesterday wearing a neck-brace, a head bandage and a large plaster across his nose.

Lennon is well aware that his side's recent form is no laughing matter – Celtic have only won six of their last 16 games in all competitions – but is adamant there is no rift with Commons or any of his other players.

He said: "When things start to go wrong, people will start rumours and look for things that aren't there. That's just us laughing at all the speculation and rumours basically. There never has been a problem between myself and Kris. I think he's a wonderful player, I get on very well with him and I've known him for a long time. I know he's going to have a big impact, when he's fit, on the rest of our season.

"As regards to rumours, if people want to believe them, that's their problem. There's not a lot I can do about it. I can't stop the rumours and I can't stop the speculation. But I know what goes on in-house and I know I've got a really good group of players who I'm very proud of. At the minute, they're just not doing themselves justice.

"It's up to me, I've got to look at my role in that as well and do better and make the players better. But I know I've got a very talented group of players and they're not far away from hitting the ground running now."

After Saturday's goalless draw against Hibernian at Parkhead, Lennon described some of his players as passengers and threatened to "out" those he believed were lacking effort.

Speaking yesterday, he said: "I'm not going to go over the top on the players. They have been brilliant since I took over. It's a short-term problem but I need to rectify it very, very quickly and just get them playing to their potential on a more consistent basis. There is no dressing room unrest. We've got a great relationship with them."

Celtic face two massive games this week, which could have a huge impact on both their European and domestic campaigns. They host Rennes tonight in the hope of boosting their Group I prospects in the Europa League, before facing second-placed Motherwell on Sunday, who sit three points ahead of Celtic in the Scottish Premier League.

Meanwhile, Lennon stressed his desire to hold on to James Forrest after the Tottenham Hotspur manager, Harry Redknapp, confirmed he is monitoring the 20-year-old winger's progress. He said: "I don't like other managers talking about players who are contracted to our club. But I've got great respect for Harry and I suppose he was asked the question out of context.

"We think James is a great talent and he is progressing very well and we want him to progress here. He is an important player for us and he's only going to get better."

PA

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