Lennon hoping fans will come back to Celtic

CELTIC manager Neil Lennon hopes some of the stay-away fans will return to Parkhead after a 2-1 victory over Motherwell began the healing process from the Scottish Cup shock against Ross County.

There appeared to be fewer fans inside Celtic Park than the official 27,750 attendance suggested but those who did turn up were generally supportive of the team during a tricky SPL encounter against a positive Motherwell side.

A small pocket of supporters sang throughout the 90 minutes as Josh Thompson's second-half double cancelled out the opening goal from Mark Reynolds.

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Lennon was accustomed to playing in front of 60,000 crowds when he captained Celtic but he did not anticipate anywhere near a full house last night.

"It wasn't odd, it's what I expected," Lennon said. "I was grateful for the people who did turn up, I was grateful for the people who sang throughout the game and got behind the team even through the difficult periods.

"I totally understand, but hopefully a few of them will come back now and support the team on Saturday.

"We have to finish second and we have to try to beat Rangers, and then we'll salvage a little something from this season."

Lennon, whose side host Hibernian at the weekend, added: "Obviously we are still hurting after Saturday but that's the way to respond. It wasn't easy, Motherwell are a good side, a good attacking threat, but so are we.

"I thought (Aiden) McGeady in the second half was tremendous. I asked for a big performance in the second half.

"We didn't do enough in the final third in the first half, although the application and attitude and work-rate was a lot, lot better than Saturday. But he and (Diomansy) Kamara lit the place up."

Andreas Hinkel and Georgios Samaras were dropped from the squad following the Hampden humiliation but Lennon claims he has not closed the door on the pair. "They are still part of the squad," the former Leicester player said. "I had to pick a team to win the game. It could have been anybody. Don't forget you have three under-21s to pick as well so sometimes you have international players in the stand."

Meanwhile, several Motherwell players could join goalkeeper John Ruddy on the injury list for Sunday's visit of Dundee United.

Keith Lasley and Stephen Craigan were both forced off with injuries while Lukas Jutkiewicz walked off in discomfort late in the game after making a surprise return from a knee problem.

Manager Craig Brown said: "They could be problems for the weekend, Lasley and Craigan.

"Stevie Hammell just made it. He is usually much sharper than he was but he played through a hamstring injury."