Johan Mjallby keeps focus on here and now with no guarantee of future role

JOHAN Mjallby admits Celtic's plans for next season will have to be put on hold while he helps interim manager Neil Lennon attempt to finish this campaign off on a high.

Mjallby returned to Parkhead last week to become assistant to Lennon, who took charge after the shock 4-0 defeat at St Mirren in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League brought a swift end to Tony Mowbray's tenure.

Forward planning is not part of the remit, however, as both men look to build on Saturday's 3-1 win over Kilmarnock and show the Celtic board they deserve to be appointed on a permanent basis. Speaking at Celtic's Lennoxtown training complex, where he was helping to promote the club's player of the year awards, Mjallby said: "The thought (of staying longer] hasn't really crossed my mind yet. I have only been here a week.

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"But even if it is only on a short-term basis it is going to be a fantastic experience.

"I hope in the future that I can have a say (about who comes in] but we don't have time to look for players because we don't know if we are going to be here next season.

"Right now we are only concentrating on the team and trying to lift their spirits.

"Obviously we will have to wait and see at the end of the season if we have been successful.

"If the team is playing in the right manner and have got some wins then at least they (the board] have to think about it.

"In fact, Neil and I haven't talked about continuing our relationship. Right now, I am trying to help him as much as possible."

Mjallby added: "It is always nice to know what you are going to do in a year or so, training and playing-wise, but it is obviously an unlucky situation.

"The previous manager had to go and obviously the board had to bring someone in and Neil was the right man for the job.

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"He has been around the club, not only as a player but with the youth team and reserves.

"It was perfect for the club that he was still here and they could bring him in during a time when it is hard to get someone in.

"But we don't have that much time so the main thing is to lift the spirits. The talent is here so hopefully we can get on a winning run."

The former Sweden internationalist insists he has no fears about his first coaching post being at such a big club.

"It's great," he said. "You can't get a better experience. Obviously it is a bit different when you are over here at the highest level as opposed to Sweden, where I would probably get a wee bit frustrated because I'm used to being around players who play for big clubs.

"If you start in the lower leagues in Sweden most of the guys are going to be semi-professional if they get any wages at all.

"Then it is hard to expect a lot from them.

"So I think it is easy to melt in here because I am used to the atmosphere around Celtic and I am used to the expectation. Dealing with the players has been no problem. Lenny phoned me because he knows what I am like. I won't change.

"I am direct and expect a lot from the players and myself, so I don't think it is going to be a problem.

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"I have been very impressed by the players so far, there is a lot of talent here and maybe they are just lacking in confidence."

Celtic are ten points behind Rangers at the top of the SPL table having played a game more, but Mjallby will try to keep the players believing that there is a glimmer of hope.

"We have a chance and mathematically we will fight for every point," he said.

"We can try and tell the players as best as we can but the only thing is, it is not in our hands.

"We are some points behind but we will try and win every game, that is the main thing, and look to win the Scottish Cup."