Lennon determined Celtic are not atrocious against Caley – again

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The Independent Football

The Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, is taking nothing for granted tonight as he seeks to avoid another cup upset at the hands of Inverness.

In February 2000, the Hoops infamously lost 3-1 at home in a Scottish Cup third-round tie to Caley, then a First Division club, which signalled the end of John Barnes' reign at Celtic. And in March 2003, Lennon himself was in the team which lost 1-0 at Inverness in the same competition.

Going into tonight's Co-operative Insurance Cup third-round tie at home to Terry Butcher's side, the Parkhead manager admitted he would field a strong starting XI to make sure there was no embarrassing repeat.

"Obviously they have history with us, they had a great result 10 years ago and they turned us over in 2003," Lennon said. "It's obviously a different set of circumstances with a different set of players, but Inverness will come and have a go.

"I am just pleased it's a home tie. I won't be diluting the team too much, I will be putting out a pretty strong team. There's a few carrying bumps and bruises and some players need some game time, but that's not taking Inverness lightly. The players coming in are quality players and we will have a strong team."

Lennon revealed his fondness for the much-maligned cup competition and insists it is even more important in the absence of any more European football this season.

"The Co-operative Insurance Cup has been good to me," the Irishman said. "It was my first trophy I won as a Celtic player and my first as the captain. All the competitions are important for us.

"Now we are out of Europe it has become more prominent in our thoughts and it's one that we would like to win. It is part of the treble and that doesn't happen very often.

"I was fortunate enough to win one in my first season but it takes a lot [to win it]. We are talking well ahead of ourselves here.

"I have been on the end of a few upsets over the years and it's not nice – and I don't want that to happen so early in the season.

"We have to have the right approach, the right attitude and do the basics well and hopefully the quality will come through eventually. We are in a good frame of mind and we are looking forward to it."

Scott Brown and James Forrest are out with ankle injuries, while Paddy McCourt is also absent and will have a scan on the shoulder injury picked up in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League win at Kilmarnock on Sunday.

"It is frustrating for him and for us," Lennon said. "He has actually popped his other shoulder twice.

"I don't know what he was doing then but he popped it out against Kilmarnock and it popped back in. We are hoping it won't be too long-term."

Lennon also revealed he has had his first look at the youngster Gustavo Ruelas, who is in Scotland with a view to signing a loan deal from the Mexican side Santos Laguna.

He added: "We've seen him today for the first time and he will be here for a wee while, a month or two. We've had very good reports and he did very well at training."

Meanwhile Derek McInnes has signed a two-year contract extension as St Johnstone manager, the Premier League club announced yesterday. McInnes and his assistant Tony Docherty have committed themselves to the Perth club until 2013.

It is a welcome boost for Saints – who won their first league match of the season last Saturday with a 2-1 victory over St Mirren – going into last night's match with Queen of the South in the Co-operative Insurance Cup third round.

McInnes was appointed St Johnstone boss in November 2007 after Owen Coyle's departure to Burnley. The former Scotland midfielder led Saints to the 2009 First Division title and secured top-flight survival last term with an eighth-placed finish.

McInnes said: "I'm really grateful to the chairman for the opportunity he gave me in November 2007 and now to have our futures settled, allowing us to concentrate on the job in hand.

"I never anticipated it would be a problem. The chairman knew I wanted to extend my stay. It was just a case of sitting down and getting it done.

"We want to make sure we are an established SPL club. Remember, we had been out of the top division for seven years. We want to improve gradually year on year to enter the top six."