Celtic got back to winning ways in the Scottish League with a 2-0 victory at home to Dundee as attention turns to next week’s Champions League clash with Aiden McGeady’s Spartak Moscow.
Manager Neil Lennon, who was in Dublinfor the All-Ireland football final on Sunday, is hopeful that Scott Brown and Anthony Stokes will be fit to face the Russians in Moscow.
Brown continued his recovery from a hip injury in the win on Saturday, but Lennon left him of the squad for Tuesday’s League Cup clash with Raith Rovers.
The Celticboss wants his captain fit for Europe and for Scotland’s big World Cup matches in October.
“We feel it is an opportunity to give Scott a free week. We should have enough cover. There are a lot of games coming up and he needs rest after three games in a week,” Lennon said.
“We will try to base his program around playing for us, obviously and making sure he is fit for Scotland as well.
“We don’t discourage players playing for their country. Obviously Celtic come first in my priorities but I know Scotland have two big games coming up next month and Scott will want to play in both of them.
“I just hope we can manage him to be able to play in them. He is a fantastic athlete, one of the best I have seen.
“Since I took over he has been a model of consistency. His attitude has been magnificent and his form at the minute comes as no surprise to me.
“He has shown maturity and quality and he has been a real driving force. He has set himself a very high standard. But I think there is more to come, he is only 27 and coming into his peak which is great news for us and Scotland as well.”
Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama scored against Dundee, but Lennon wants his team to turn more of their chances into goals after Brown had a penalty saved by former Celtic ‘keeper Rob Douglas on Saturday.
Lennon admitted, “It is a concern for me. What isn’t a concern is the chances that we are creating, because we are doing that on numerous occasions in games -- but I would like to see us start putting a few more away.
“We lacked a little quality at times in the final third but the build-up play was pretty good and defensively we looked pretty comfortable all afternoon.
“It was a good performance, a clean sheet and three points which is what I wanted. There was a good tempo to the game. We had to wait a wee while for the breakthrough but it was a quality goal from Gary after really good play between him and Scott.
“We got a great second goal in the second half and I felt after that it was one-way traffic and the only disappointment was we didn’t get more goals.”
SLIGO Rovers were held to a scoreless draw by Bray at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night but remain favorites to lift the Airtricity Premier Division crown. Derry City were beaten 2-1 at home by UCD, Bohs drew 1-1 with visitors Cork and Shelbourne won 1-0 at Dundalk . . .
THE FAI have confirmed that Damien Duff will be awarded a cap for the June friendly in Hungary despite a doubt raised by FIFA over the referee’s credentials. As a result, Duff remains on 100 caps for his country after retiring from international football last month . . .
IRISHMEN Richie Foran and Conor Pepper both scored for Inverness as they drew 2-2 at Hibs in the Scottish Premier Division on Saturday. Former Sligo striker Eoin Doyle had scored for Hibs . . .
DROGHEDA United made a return to winning ways when they lifted the EA Sports Cup thanks to a 3-1 win over Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium in Saturday’s final . . .
THE FAI have confirmed their plans to retain a 12 team Premier Division in the Airtricity League next season and will invite new applicants to join the First Division . . .
FORMER Irish midfielder Stephen Ireland broke an arm in Aston Villa’s defeat at Southampton on Saturday and could be out of action for a month . . .
SLIGO Rovers striker Mark Quigley has been named as player of the month for August by the Airtricity/Soccer Writers jury . . .
RICHARD Dunne remains an injury concern for Ireland’s big World Cup clash with Germany in Dublin next month.
Jim McGuinness’s revenge after All-Ireland win
Donegal boss Jim McGuinnessattempted to settle a few old scores in the aftermath of Sunday’s All-Ireland final win over Mayo.
The Sam Maguirewinner refused to address the post-match press conference until journalist Declan Bogue was removed from the room.
Bogue wrote the controversial book last year that saw Kevin Cassidy kicked off the Donegal squad by McGuinness for his comments in This Is Our Year.
After asking for Bogue to be removed from the Croke Park press conference room, McGuinness explained, “There was a book written. There were a lot of untruths in the book. There was a lot of things said about me.
“I’ve never broken court on it since the whole thing happened. I’ve held my dignity. I’ve let myself be castigated. And I done that because I gave somebody an agreement that I wouldn’t break my court on it.