Neil Lennon had to apologize to his former Northern Ireland teammate Tommy Wright after he denied accusing St. Johnstone striker Steven MacLean of diving in Celtic’s 2-1 win at Parkhead on Saturday.

Celtic were ahead with minutes to go when MacLean went down after a challenge by Irish striker Anthony Stokes.

Afterwards Lennon claimed MacLean “has a tendency to go down easy at times,” a remark which upset Saints boss Wright, a close friend of the Celtic manager.

Lennon later said, “I just said in that instance that it was not a penalty, that he went down easily. Having watched it on numerous occasions, then yeah, I think he did.

“If I have annoyed Tommy -- and he’s a very good friend -- then I apologize to Tommy. We were talking about a specific incident in the game that may have changed the course of the game. I called it as I saw it. There was no offense meant.

“I don’t remember calling Steven a diver. I never have called anyone a diver in the game.”

Lennon has also distanced himself from the Sunderland job after it was suggested he is in the frame to replace the sacked Paolo Di Canio.

“I don’t like answering questions on this kind of thing. I’m not aware of me being linked with anything. You are asking the wrong person,” Lennon said.

“Maybe you should ask the people linking me with the jobs. I’m not aware of who they are. I’m very, very happy doing what I’m doing at the minute.”

Celtic’s Champions League group adventure began with a 2-0 defeat away to AC Milan last week when they conceded two goals in the final 10 minutes.

They now meet Barcelona, 4-0 winners over Ajax, next week, with Lennon apprehensive about the visit of the Catalan giants.

“The Barcelona result was very impressive and obviously concerning as well, considering we play them next,” Lennon said.

“Barcelona will be hurting from last year in the Champions League, particularly the semifinal, and they will come back reinvigorated.

“When you have a player the caliber of Messi he can make any team better, and allied to Neymar, who is in their ranks as well, and the attacking options they already have, then they are obviously in superb form because Ajax are a very good team as well.

“It takes a lot to surprise players of that experience and quality, who have been playing at the highest level for the last seven, eight, nine, 10 years.

“They have done everything — World Cups, Euro Championships, Champions Leagues, so it will be very difficult for me to come up with something that they haven’t seen before.”

Celtic have announced a pre-tax profit of almost $15 million last season after a near 50 percent jump in revenue.