Celtic’s Champions League hopes suffered a blow as captain Scott Brown’s appeal against the length of his suspension was dismissed by Uefa.
The midfielder was banned for two matches on top of his automatic one-game suspension for being sent off in the Group H clash against Barcelona on October 1, when he flicked a leg out at Neymar after fouling the Brazilian. Brown missed the home game against Ajax as a result and travelled to Geneva to plead his case to Uefa’s appeals committee, eager for the chance to return early. However, that appeal was unsuccessful and the Scotland international will sit out the return game against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday and the visit of AC Milan later in the month.
Celtic manager Lennon, speaking ahead of today’s Scottish Premiership clash with Dundee United at Parkhead, said: “We didn’t win the appeal. It is disappointing because we thought we had a good case. He will be flying back and meeting up with the squad tonight. I feel the ban is excessive for a misdemeanour, or whatever you want to call it. I am sure we had a fair hearing but it wasn’t to be. It is a blow for us and for Scott and we will just have to deal with it.”
With midfielder Nir Biton suspended for the trip to Amsterdam after being sent off in the 2-1 win against Ajax, Joe Ledley having problems with his back and Kris Commons racing to overcome a hamstring injury, Lennon pinpointed the importance of Beram Kayal as he pondered his line-up for the visit of United. Former Celtic skipper Lennon said: “You are hoping to have the ban reduced but, if not, you have contingency plans just in case. Kayal, Ledley and Efe Ambrose can play in midfield. We will have to keep an eye on Kayal, we can’t afford to lose too many players in that area because it is a crucial part of the pitch. There is a temptation to rotate the squad, it is something we will look at.”
Lennon, who addressed reports that he is interested in Partick Thistle left-back Aaron Taylor-Sinclair by saying “it is just speculation at the minute”, is looking to remain unbeaten in the league before setting off for Amsterdam on Tuesday.
“I want to keep this run going. I want to go into the Ajax game in good shape, psychologically,” he said. “It is a game we want to win and win well.”
Meanwhile, Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara has challenged his side to put a controversial League Cup exit behind them and show their true colours at Celtic Park.
A first-half flare-up at Inverness saw Nadir Ciftci sent off after reacting angrily to a Richie Foran tackle on Gary Mackay-Steven that sparked a melee. The 21-year-old Turkish striker has since been accused by the Scottish Football Association of grabbing assistant referee Gavin Harris “by the throat” and an opposition player “by the face”, and he could face a long suspension. He disputed his sending-off and must respond to the accusations of excessive misconduct at a hearing next Thursday.
Ciftci is available for the trip to Parkhead and McNamara must decide whether to select him. The United manager has no plans to change his team’s style of play for the Premiership clash with the champions but, after a 2-1 defeat in the Highlands, he hopes for better in Glasgow. United have won many admirers already this season with their brand of exciting football which last weekend saw them tear St Mirren apart 4-0 at Tannadice. McNamara said: “We’re looking forward to going to Celtic Park and we’ll approach it like we do any other game. That’s when we’re at our best and we’ll try to show that again on Saturday.
“We have some very good forward-thinking players who can cause any team problems. This is a great stage to go and play and it can bring out the best in us.”
McNamara has told his players to forget about their cup exit and focus on tackling Lennon’s men, saying: “What’s done is done now.
“We wanted to progress in the cup but it wasn’t to be. It’s about moving on and trying to get a positive result in the next game. Celtic are a quality side but, as always, we’ll focus on ourselves and stick to the things we’re good at.”