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Neil Lennon urges Celtic to show ‘desire’ against Ross County

Hibernian v Celtic – Scottish Premiership – Easter Road
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Neil Lennon wants his Celtic players to demonstrate their desire to defend the Betfred Cup when they take on Ross County on Sunday.

The Parkhead boss and his players are under the spotlight again after crashing out of the Europa League with two Group H games remaining on Thursday night after their second 4-1 loss to Sparta Prague this month.

That damaging defeat in the Czech Republic left the Scottish champions with just two wins in nine in all competitions and they are 11 points behind Old Firm rivals Rangers at the top of the Premiership, albeit with two games in hand.

Ahead of the Betfred Cup last-16 tie against the Staggies at Parkhead, the Celtic boss said: “It is not a question of the players giving me a performance, it is a question of sticking together.

“All I want to see is a determination and desire and will to win. We had a long chat after the (Sparta Prague) game which was really productive.

“I am not going to say it is going to be a turning point by any stretch of the imagination because I don’t believe in that.

“I just believe they will find a consistency and their qualities really soon. We have to now make real inroads on domestic duties now.

“We are starting the defence of the League Cup and we want to progress into the next round and take it from there.”

The former Celtic captain, in his second spell as manager at Parkhead, will “go with the strongest team possible” and he is well aware of what comes with being a Hoops player.

He said: “These players always have to prove something, every day, every game, that’s the life of being at Celtic.

“Every day you get out of bed, look in the mirror and say ‘what have I got to do today?’ And you have to do that between now and the end of your career.

“These players are hurting, they are not enjoying this one bit. They care, despite what other people might think, they are hurting.”