Lennon keen to go on winning run

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon has challenged his players to embark on a winning run and continue putting the Old Firm defeat behind them.

Celtic bounced back from their 4-2 Ibrox loss with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Ross County in the Scottish Communities League Cup on Wednesday night. Lennon and his players were under severe scrutiny as they played the side that knocked them out of the Scottish Cup last year, on the back of a second-half collapse at Ibrox.

But Gary Hooper's 14th-minute tap-in settled their nerves and Celtic were entirely comfortable after Scott Boyd put an Anthony Stokes cross into his own net in the 52nd minute. Lennon said: "We've got a block of games coming up before the international break and we want to win the majority of them - or win them all if we can."

Rangers' defeat by Falkirk then made Celtic firm favourites to lift the trophy and brought some more cheer to the Hoops fans following Sunday's disappointment. And Lennon wants to see his side atone further for their Ibrox loss, starting with the visit of Inverness in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League on Saturday.

Celtic then host Udinese in the Europa League before facing Hearts at Tynecastle before their international players go their separate ways.

Lennon added: "I know they are mentally strong, they showed that last year. They just didn't turn up for the second half on Sunday. We've had a few choice words with them and we don't want to see that again.

"It's never easy coming to these tight grounds and we're pleased to be in the next round of the cup and that's all I can ask of the players. The performance pleased me, the professionalism and the work rate off the ball. It was difficult and you are always looking to see what character they've got and they showed that."

Lennon made five changes to his side but each of the players dropping out was injured. Glenn Loovens and Ki Sung-yueng had tight hamstrings, Georgios Samaras is suffering from bruised ribs, Mark Wilson has a knee problem and Scott Brown remains out for the weekend with an ankle injury.

However, some of the players could be back for the visit of Inverness.

"Loovens could be, Mark Wilson could be, Samaras is a doubt I think," Lennon said. "Ki should be okay as well. Hopefully we'll have the majority of them fit for the weekend."

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

Europa League
Anthony Stokes
League Cup
Premier League
Neil Lennon
Glenn Loovens
Queens Park Rangers
Gary Hooper
Scott Brown
Scott Brown
Mark Wilson

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