Celtic won't be fooled by struggling Dundee
GLASGOW - Agence France-Presse
Celtic manager Neil Lennon gestures to fans as he celebrates their victory against Spartak Moscow during their Champions League Group G soccer match at Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland December 5, 2012. REUTERS photoCeltic manager Neil Lennon has warned his players not to expect an easy game against Scottish Premier League basement side Dundee on Wednesday.
The Dens Park side sit bottom of the table, six points from safety, while the Hoops are five points clear at the top of the SPL.
Dundee have found life difficult in the top division after they replaced the liquidated Rangers in the summer, having won just three of their 18 fixtures so far.
Current champions Celtic are looking for their fifth straight win in the league for the first time this campaign but despite his side being in a rich vein of form Lennon says he won't be taking anything for granted.
"I'm not going to take the game lightly," Lennon said.
"We have another three games, Dundee, Hibs away and Motherwell before the break, so I will try to use the squad but everyone wants to play.
"The team is playing so well that I don't want to break the momentum up too much. But people are champing at the bit to play." With Celtic booking their place in the last 16 of the Champions League it means the Hoops remain in all four competitions at Christmas for the first time since legendary manager Jock Stein was in charge of the club.
The Parkhead side's 4-0 win over Ross County on Saturday put them five points clear at the top of the league with a game in hand over nearest challengers Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
And Lennon believes his squad are in good enough shape to continue this fine run of form before the winter break begins on January 5.
"I don't expect us to pull away, but I expect us to kick on," he said.
"We are playing well at the minute and had an excellent second half on Saturday - a really good, top-quality performance from everyone, and with the likes of James Forrest coming back to the team, he gives us an extra dimension as well. "The players have acquitted themselves brilliantly so far and we are halfway through the season and obviously we would just like to keep that going now. "Whether other teams can stay with us, I don't know, but it doesn't look like Inverness are letting up, while Aberdeen had a good win at the weekend, so the league is still very vibrant." While Lennon is pleased with his side's momentum, he is happy to accept the winter break, which gives teams two free weekends after new year.
"I'm looking forward to the break," Lennon said. "We are into mid-30s now in terms of games already.
"It has come at a good time for everybody. Hopefully when we come out of the winter break we will have a full squad.
"And it will give the players a chance to refresh themselves mentally and give their bodies a rest for a week.
"We will come back and do a mini pre-season training camp and get ready to go again." Elsewhere, second-placed Inverness Caledonian Thistle take on St Mirren, Hibernian host Ross County, Kilmarnock take on Hearts at Rugby Park and Motherwell face Aberdeen at Fir Park.
Wednesday Dundee United v St Johnstone; Hibernian v Ross County, Inverness CT v St Mirren, Kilmarnock v Hearts, Motherwell v Aberdeen; Dundee v Celtic