Celtic v Rangers: Neil Lennon expects tough game

Lennon expects to face determined Rangers side as Celtic look to wrap up title



22:30 GMT, 24 March 2012

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes Rangers' pride could make them 'powerful' opponents in Sunday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Ibrox which took on a new significance on Saturday.

The administration-hit Govan club are reeling, having lost four out of their last six games as they face the prospect of losing four consecutive home games for the first time in their 140-year history.

And with Kilmarnock beating Motherwell at Rugby Park, the Hoops can wrap up the title at the home of their great rivals for the first time since 1967.

Up for it: Neil Lennon expects Celtic to face a dangerous Rangers side

Up for it: Neil Lennon expects Celtic to face a dangerous Rangers side

While the Parkhead side are firm favourites going into a game which will have Glasgow holding its breath, the Celtic boss expects the Light Blues to pull out all the stops in front of their own fans.

'They will be professional, they will be motivated and they will have their pride to play for and that can be a very powerful thing in football,' said the Irishman.

'So I am very wary of the game.

'We might go into the game as favourites but you can't call an Old Firm game, regardless of current situations, that has always been the case.'

While Ally McCoist's men are on the ropes, Celtic are looking to bounce back from a rare defeat.

The Hoops travel to Govan on the game on the back of their first loss in 27 domestic matches.

However, the former Celtic skipper insists he is not too perturbed about last week's 1-0 Scottish Communities League Cup final defeat to Kilmarnock at Hampden, which scuppered his chances of becoming the first person to win the treble as a player and manager

Dejected: Rangers lost to Dundee United in the league last weekend

Dejected: Rangers lost to Dundee United in the league last weekend

'I have analysed the game and I stand by what I said after the game,' said Lennon.

'I thought we played well. I have read the post-match quarter-backs' opinions on the game and what they think of this team.

'But I wasn't unhappy with the way we played, a little bit of quality in the final third and we would have won the game comfortably.

'So I won't be over-critical of the team because they have been on a fantastic run and I'm sure they will be very determined to go unbeaten for the rest of the season.

'We have got over Sunday and have prepared well this week and we are looking forward to the game.

'I wouldn't say I have a team in mind,' added Lennon, who will assess winger James Forrest (ankle) and striker Gary Hooper (dead leg).

'We are going through a few options at the minute.

'The boys are very hungry and, obviously, after the defeat last week, they will be very motivated.'