Neil Lennon finds Kris Commons’ Scotland omission hard to believe
CELTIC manager Neil Lennon has admitted he finds it hard to understand Kris Commons’ omission from the Scotland squad and believes his in-form midfielder would enhance the prospects of World Cup qualifying success for Craig Levein.
Commons delivered another impressive display for the Scottish champions yesterday, creating their goal in a 1-0 win over Hearts at Celtic Park, which leaves them two points clear of Hibs at the top of the SPL with a game in hand.
But despite being one of Celtic’s most prominent players since the start of the season, Commons has again been left out of Levein’s squad for the crucial Group A qualifiers against Wales in Cardiff on Friday and Belgium in Brussels the following Tuesday.
Asked if he found Commons’ current international exile difficult to believe, Lennon replied: “Yes, but you are asking the wrong man here. Kris plays every week for me when he is in form like that, so you know my opinion of him.
“I’m sure he would help Scotland along the way and I’m sure he would want to help Scotland along the way. He has just for to keep performing the way he is and it will be sooner rather than later. He’s disappointed, that’s natural. He would like to play for Scotland.
“Listen, Craig has his reasons for it. I’m not here to criticise any manager in any shape or form. We had a talk about Kris last year. Craig has come out publicly and said there are other players ahead of him and that’s his decision.
“Kris was fantastic today again, his all round play was fantastic. He was the avenue for a lot of our good play. It was a good ball in for Samaras’ goal and some of his other play was of an exceptionally high standard. He’s at a stage in his career where things are all new to him. He’s won a championship, he’s playing European football, he’s done the rounds in League One and the Championship in England and he’s having the time of his life.
“But he has worked really hard to get himself into really good condition and he’s reaping the benefits of that now. Selfishly, I’m actually delighted he’s not in the Scotland squad because it will give him the chance to put his feet up for a few days.
“On the flip side of it for Kris, his wife is heavily pregnant and he has two young kids as well. So he might be grateful he doesn’t have to spend two weeks away in hotels with Scotland and can spend more time with his family.”
Lennon expects Charlie Mulgrew to be fit enough for Scotland duty, despite his first half substitution yesterday in the wake of the accidental head clash with Jamie MacDonald which saw the Hearts goalkeeper concussed.
“Charlie was a bit fuzzy and more nauseous as the game went on,” said Lennon. “But he has been checked out and he’s fine. There’s no reason why he can’t join Scotland and be looked after by their medical department.
“Scott Brown will also join up with Scotland and be guided by them. He couldn’t play for us today, he was too sore and made that decision himself on Thursday. It will depend on how he feels whether he is able to play against Wales in the first game for Scotland.”
Lennon expressed his satisfaction at the response of his players yesterday at the end of a week which saw them secure Celtic’s first ever Champions League away win over Spartak Moscow.
“The players have put in a massive effort this week and you could see that fatigue was starting to kick in towards the end today,” he said. “So I can’t speak highly enough of the players, it was a brilliant effort.
“I’m not saying we were at our best by any means. But we created a few chances and we could have put Hearts away a lot earlier than we did. Champions League games are hugely demanding, both mentally and physically, with all the travelling involved.
“We used a lot of energy in the game in Moscow and maybe in hindsight I could have changed the team a little more today, but I didn’t want to, I wanted to keep the momentum going. The majority of players played quite well. There was just a little bit of tiredness towards the end and I totally understand that.”
Hearts manager John McGlynn felt his team merited something for their efforts on a day when goalkeeper Peter Enckelman, making his debut as substitute for the injured MacDonald, was at fault for Georgios Samaras’ 34th minute winner.
“There was a great opportunity for us to get a point today and maybe we deserved to,” said McGlynn. “I thought our guys acquitted themselves tremendously well. It was worrying when Jamie went off on a stretcher and he was concussed for around 20 minutes. Happily, he seems okay now although he will be observed over a period of time to make sure.
“I thought Peter did okay when he came on. Samaras had the whole goal to aim at and it’s gone straight at Peter. The ball could just as easily have gone under Jamie if he’d still been on.”
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