Football

Hoops boss relishing Ibrox return

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Celtic boss Neil Lennon has called on his players to take their impressive recent form at Ibrox into Sunday's first Old Firm derby of the season.

The Hoops suffered a 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in their Europa League Group I opener in Spain on Thursday night but they are now looking to return to winning ways with a morale-boosting victory over their greatest rivals.

Lennon told Press Association Sport: "I think that is what football is all about, going to away grounds like Ibrox and Tynecastle and setting out your teams to do well. It is a good challenge. I have been delighted with the way the team has performed at Ibrox since I took over as manager."

He added: "I think they have played very well and were unlucky not to win the last one. But it's a new season, Rangers are a bit fresher with new players and we have improved the squad as well, I think."

Regardless of the outcome of this game, Lennon does not expect the result to ultimately prove decisive in determining the destination of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title.

He added: "It's the first Old Firm derby and you can't dictate which way it is going to go but it won't be a season breaker one way or the other."

Celtic arrived back in Scotland on Friday but Lennon insists the Old Firm derby is the ideal tonic after their European exploits.

He said: "Going from the European game into the Old Firm game is probably the best thing that can happen.

"Sometimes you can come back from a European game and there is a flatness going about your SPL duties but with a game of this magnitude, it can be easy to motivate the players.

"I like the edge, it keeps you on your toes. I think everyone enjoys it. You love Old Firm games when you win and hate them when you lose."

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Topics:
Europa League
Football
Premier League
Neil Lennon
Queens Park Rangers
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