Furious Lennon threatens players with axe

A “raging” Neil Lennon last night warned some of his players they were in danger of being shipped out of Celtic Park following their attitude in the 2-1 defeat at Motherwell.

The Celtic manager described his side’s attacking display as “insipid”, although he absolved James Forrest of blame, after leaving Gary Hooper on the bench.

Lennon questioned his own decision to make five changes ahead of cup ties against St Mirren and Juventus, although he brought in five internationals in Adam Matthews, Tomas Rogic, Victor Wanyama, Kris Commons and Georgios Samaras.

Samaras, who started up front alongside Anthony Stokes, headed Celtic level in the 63rd minute following Chris Humphrey’s opener but Michael Higdon soon volleyed the winner.

Lennon, whose side are now 19 points ahead of second-placed Motherwell in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, said: “I’m raging. I made changes with games in mind but still put a strong team out.

“People keep coming to me looking to play – they got the opportunity and didn’t play.

“It seems to me if I leave Hooper out the team then we suffer. We were very, very poor going forward in the first half.”

Lennon, whose side lost the winner after substitute Efe Ambrose and Adam Matthews both went for the same aerial ball, added: “We got a good goal to equalise, we drop a clanger, then we bring Hooper on and made more chances in the final 15 minutes when he is on than we did in the whole game.

“Forrest was brilliant and more or less back to his best but some of them need to take a look at themselves. Maybe I do as well, maybe I made too many changes, I don’t know.”

When asked whether there was a lack of hunger among his players because they feel the SPL title is already won, Lennon said: “If that’s the case they won’t play here again. They can find another club and I’ll play the kids.

“If they waste any game at this club and I detect that in their play, which was apparent in some cases, then it gives me a lot to think about.

“I’m pretty angry with some of the performances.”

He added: “I don’t know how many decent balls James put into the box and there was no real desire to get on the end of things.

“The front line first half, apart from James, was insipid. We have a lot of the ball and I want people to get on the end of things, to get in the box, to hold the ball up, to fight for the right to play. Some players didn’t do that.”

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