Neil Lennon: Don’t pick Celtic players for Scotland tour

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Neil Lennon has advised Alex McLeish to leave Celtic players at home when the new Scotland manager picks his squad for the summer tour to Peru and Mexico.

The Hibs manager won’t stand in the way of his own players if they are called up – indeed he will demand they go even if the Easter Road side are due to be involved in Europa League qualifiers.

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon helps to promote the SPFL Trust Golf Day. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon helps to promote the SPFL Trust Golf Day. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

But Lennon does not see any point in dragging players such as Scott Brown, Kieran Tierney and Stuart Armstrong across the Atlantic after another 
taxing season for Celtic.

Tierney, for example, has played 49 games already this season for club and country. The full-back, depending on how Celtic
fare against Zenit St Petersburg in the second leg of their last 32 Europa League clash on Thursday, could face a very hectic last quarter of the season.

“I wouldn’t play any Celtic players,” said Lennon yesterday. “We keep going on about how important European football is. It is important for all the clubs in the Premiership if Celtic qualify.

“We want to have Champions League football next season again. So I wouldn’t take any of the Celtic players. They are near enough into their mid-40s for games already. Some of them didn’t get a break last year. So you’re playing 12 months a year. It’s got to stop. They need a break at some stage.

“You know what Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong, Kieran Tierney and all these players can do,” he added. “I’m sure Alex will know that as well.”

Lennon won’t hear of his own players complaining about tiredness if they are picked. The Hibs manager has backed calls for midfielder Dylan McGeouch to be included in the travelling party for the games in May and June.

“If he is called up he is going,” said Lennon. “I get the Celtic side of things, I understand that. But for other players maybe on the periphery of the squad you have to go, you have to go play for your country. Certainly in this country, (if you’re) thinking I am not going to play for Scotland in Mexico and Peru because it is the end of the season, they are not that good!

“Sorry, they have not done enough in their career to warrant that kind of attitude if you understand what I am saying.

“All this hoo-ha about these games at the end of the season – and that is all it is, hoo-ha. I get the Celtic perspective because they’ve got Champions League qualifiers. Rangers might have that and Aberdeen might have that. I understand that. But the rest of them should go and play.”

When it was pointed out that in-form Hibs could be looking forward to Europa League qualifiers, he stressed: “They’ll have to go and play. I wouldn’t stand in their way.”