Lennon remaining upbeat

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Neil Lennon will remind his Celtic players he has already proved it is possible to win a Champions League return leg by four goals as he draws up plans to unleash Aiden McGeady on Braga next week.

Lennon oversaw a miserable 3-0 third qualifying-round first-leg defeat on Wednesday night, which left the Hoops' hopes of reaching the lucrative group stage hanging by a thread. The Celtic boss insisted overturning such a deficit was far from impossible, revealing he would mention the victory he played in five years ago that almost witnessed a great comeback against Artmedia Bratislava.

After infamously losing the first leg 5-0, the Bhoys won 4-0 at Celtic Park, going down by the narrowest of margins in their second qualifying-round tie. "We'll be drawing on that experience," said Lennon, who is banking on an intimidating atmosphere at Parkhead. "We'll have a pretty big crowd behind us."

Despite his outward show of confidence, Lennon's first taste of the Champions League from the other side of the touchline appears destined to be a short one.

Whether he will be allowed to cup tie McGeady in the process remains to be seen but he claims there was nothing sinister about the winger's omission last night.

That was despite Lennon having insisted 24 hours earlier that his star midfielder would play unless he was overruled by the club's hierarchy.

McGeady's absence fuelled speculation his Parkhead career was at an end but Lennon revealed afterwards the 24-year-old had been left out after a back problem flared up and not because he was on the brink of being sold.

Lennon said: "Having spoken to the medical team, with the lack of training and the lack of game time he's had, I thought it best not to risk him. Hopefully, we'll have him for the second leg."

The same cannot be said for Andreas Hinkel, whose days at Celtic look numbered after he was not even registered to play.

"He's got a year left on his contract and we can't afford to let that run down," said Lennon.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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