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Football | Europe

Neil Lennon © Action Images

Lennon wants Celtic to show spirit



Neil Lennon has called on his Celtic players to start replicating their European form on the domestic stage ahead of their Scottish Premier League clash against Kilmarnock on Saturday.

The Hoops capped off a memorable Champions League Group G campaign by qualifying for the last 16 of the competition following a last-gasp 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow at Parkhead.

Lennon's men became the first Scottish side to achieve 10 points in the group stages as they made it through to the next round for only the third time in their history, achieving a famous 2-1 win over group winners Barcelona along the way.

However, the Hoops have blown hot and cold on the domestic front with their inconsistent form seeing them drop 17 points in 15 matches so far.

Celtic have failed to win any of their SPL matches immediately after their past three European matches - a run that has seen them lose to Kilmarnock and Inverness while drawing at home to St Johnstone.

Glamour ties against Paris Saint Germain, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich await Celtic when the draw for the next round of the Champions League is made on December 20.

But Lennon has urged his side not to be distracted from matters closer to home, starting with this Saturday's fixture away to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

"We will look forward to the draw but I want them to concentrate on domestic duties and start finding that real consistency in the league," the Celtic manager said.

"They have shown what they can do at European level and I think a lot of them have put their focus in this campaign.

"Now they can put that to one side for a few months and really start to tidy up domestic matters."

James Forrest remains out injured for the match against Kilmarnock but Lennon downplayed injury fears about Kris Commons and captain Scott Brown.

Commons was stretchered off following a heavy challenge in the Spartak match while it appears that Brown is overcoming a hip injury that was expected to require surgery.

"He's sort of made a remarkable recovery really," said Lennon.

"He's talking about putting the surgery off, but we will assess that over the next couple of weeks.

"We don't want him to go for the surgery. But, if it's a necessity, we'll have to look at it.

"He has felt very good for the last week - 10 days and we've sort of drip fed him into games. But that's not ideal, so we'll discuss it again.

"I don't want to force him into anything he doesn't want to do, but the medical team will take care of it."

Elsewhere, Inverness could leapfrog Hibernian into second place if they can defeat Pat Fenlon's side at the Caledonian Stadium.

Hearts will try to get over the misery of their Edinburgh derby defeat to Hibs in the Scottish Cup when they host high-flying Aberdeen at Tynecastle.

In Saturday's other games Motherwell welcome Ross County to Fir Park and St Mirren host St Johnstone.

Sunday's only match sees the second Dundee derby of the season as Dundee host rivals Dundee United at Dens Park. The first meeting between the sides in August saw United triumph 3-0 against their neighbours, who are five points from safety and currently prop up the rest of the SPL.

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