Neil Lennon calls on Celtic players to ‘put the title race to bed’

Neil Lennon has urged Celtic?to “put the title race to bed” before the final Old Firm showdown of the season to allow themselves as much time as possible to focus on the chance to wrap up a triple treble in the Scottish Cup final.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon, left, with assistant John Kennedy. Picture: SNS

The champions blew the chance to set up a title-clinching opportunity in front of their own fans against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park this Saturday when they dropped two more points away to Hibs on Sunday.

It was a second successive goalless draw in the Premiership for Celtic, prompting interim manager Lennon to question the attitude of some of the players under his command.

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They retain a healthy nine-point lead over Rangers at the top of the table, with just four games of the campaign remaining, but Lennon is keen to see the club’s eighth consecutive league triumph wrapped up as soon as possible.

It could yet happen this weekend if Celtic beat Kilmarnock, then Rangers slip up at home to Aberdeen on Sunday. But if Steven Gerrard’s men can continue their current winning run, Celtic’s first guaranteed opportunity to retain their crown will come against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on 4 May.

If they fail to cross the finishing line that weekend, then the title race would be extended further to encompass the final Old Firm clash of the 
campaign at Ibrox on 12 May.

“I know we have missed the chance to win it at home next Saturday but I can’t think about that now,” said Lennon.

“Everyone says ‘Oh, we could have won it at Easter Road if results had gone our way’ or ‘we could have won it at home’ or whatever. I get all that to a certain extent but you still have to stay in the present moment. I’ve prepared for each game with the mindset of taking one game at a time, because it’s just too important not to.

“But we just need to win it and stop thinking about when we are going to win it. It’s now about the next game against Kilmarnock – win that and see where it takes us. If we have to go to Aberdeen [with the title race still on], then let’s make sure we do the job properly, win the title and put it to bed. Then we can look forward to the cup final against Hearts at Hampden at the end of May.”