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Neil Lennon Photo by: Google Images

Sports Digest: Niall Lennon furious over Celtic player snub at union awards

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Neil Lennon Photo by: Google Images

Neil Lennon’s emotions have been stretched to the limit over the past week as his Celtic players were snubbed at the player’s union awards, lost to Motherwell when he was spoken to after the game by the referee and new doubts arose about his Parkhead future.

Lennon erupted last Thursday when no player from his title winning squad was included in a Player of the Year shortlist for the PFA awards voted for by the Scottish League players.

Motherwell striker Michael Higdon, Inverness midfielder Andrew Shinnie, Hibernian forward Leigh Griffiths and Aberdeen striker Niall McGinn, formerly of Celtic, were nominated for the award, with Victor Wanyama in the running for the young player trophy.

“It beggars belief that we make a semifinal of the League Cup, final of the Scottish Cup, win the championship, make the last 16 of Europe, beating Barcelona, beating Spartak Moscow, putting the country on the map again, and I think the outcome of those votes belittles all the efforts of the players. I think it’s abysmal,” Lennon fumed.

“Are people voting for the best player in Scotland or the most improved player in Scotland? There’s a huge difference in my eyes, and that’s not taking anything from the candidates that were nominated.

“They have all had fine seasons, but to not have one Celtic player in that group is unbelievable.  

“There is a lot of ill will in the dressing room now. The players are very, very disappointed with the outcome. They have performed heroically.”

Lennon also became embroiled in a dispute over the issue with fellow Ulsterman Kenny Shiels after the Kilmarnock manager labeled Celtic as “Paranoid FC” following their complaints over the player shortlist snub.

Lennon responded after the Motherwell game on Sunday when he said, “Kenny has always had plenty to say about our club. He likes to ramble on in little monologues, he is a bit like David Brent sometimes. He is an unconscious comedian.

“Nothing surprises me from Kenny. He has had a couple of barbed comments about my team and the club over the last couple of years so he must have a personal agenda. I don’t know, you would need to ask him about that

“I do take exception to the paranoia comment. That’s been thrown at our club for the last 15 to 20 years but I think the last three or four years have proved that we weren’t paranoid, we were just right.”

Currently serving a three game touchline ban, Lennon was in the stands at Motherwell when referee Euan Norris awarded a controversial second half penalty after Charlie Mulgrew was adjudged to have fouled Henrik Ojamaa just inside the box.  Michael Higdon scored from the spot to put Motherwell 2-1 up and put the game beyond Celtic.

Lennon revealed afterwards that he was called into the referee’s game, and he may now be the subject of further disciplinary action.

“The ref called me into his room. It was about a number of things but we’ll leave that confidential for now. I don’t know if I am in trouble. Maybe,” he said.

The stories about Lennon’s future surfaced in a BBC interview after the league title was won and before Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at Motherwell.

Asked where his future lies on the BBC’s Football Focus program Lennon said, “I don’t know.”

He added, “I’ve got magnificent support from chief executive Peter Lawwell and the board, I’ve got a great club here and a great group of young players.

“But you just don’t know what’s around the corner and what challenges lie ahead for you, not just in your professional life but in your personal life as well.

“So we’ll take stock of everything after the cup final, have a sit down and see what we do for next year.”

Meanwhile, Kenyan midfielder Wanyama has committed his future to Celtic for next season despite interest from a number of Premier League clubs.

“I still have a contract with Celtic and I’m happy at the club so I think I’ll still be here. We want to do better than this season so if we can get the treble next season, it will be a very good achievement for me,” he said.

Georgios Samaras was voted Player of the Year by Celtic supporters at an awards ceremony in Glasgow on Monday night.

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