Midday Celtic game too soon after international call-ups, says Lennon


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Neil Lennon is not happy that his Celtic side have to travel to Aberdeen for a lunchtime kick-off at the end of a week in which his international players have been scattered all over the world.

The Hoops' march to the Scottish Premier League title resumes at Pittodrie today, but Lennon will almost certainly be without the South Korea midfielder Ki Sung-yueng, the Honduras left-back Emilio Izaguirre and Mexico's Efrain Juarez, who had all still not returned when Lennon delivered his lunchtime media conference yesterday.

With Lennon's men 20 points ahead of Rangers, there is less pressure on Celtic than in previous years. But the Northern Irishman, at Parkhead yesterday to pick up his manager of the month award for February, made sure the relevant people were aware of his gripe.

"With the international boys being away, the amount of travelling they have done and the fact that it's a 12 o'clock kick-off in Aberdeen, which I am really not happy about, there will be a few changes from last week for tomorrow's game," said Lennon, who is again likely to be without his captain, Scott Brown, because of a groin injury.

"The majority are back but I haven't seen Efrain Juarez or Emilio, they are still making their way back and will be very doubtful for tomorrow. Ki Sung-yueng is still making his way back or else he might still be in South Korea.

"I am all for internationals and all for friendlies. My beef is with the scheduling of this game tomorrow.

"If it had been at three o'clock or on Sunday, it might have bought us a bit more time to get the players back and have ample time for them to recover.

"As things stand, it is impossible for some of them to do that with the amount of travelling they have had. Again, it is also difficult for our supporters to get up there for 12 o'clock. The most important people in football at the minute – the players and fans – they are going to suffer the most. But I don't do the scheduling and we have to get on with it the best we can."

Celtic are looking for their 15th consecutive win after six clean sheets last month helped Lennon to his award.

"It means a helluva lot but it is just down to the players, who have performed magnificently and the consistency has been fantastic," said former Celtic captain Lennon.