Lennon wants changes to league schedule

Lennon wants changes to league schedule

Neil Lennon insists Scottish clubs’ perennial struggles in Europe would be helped by an earlier start to the season.

Celtic and Hibernian both crashed to 3-0 defeats in the first legs of their respective European qualifiers this week, their first competitive matches of the campaign.

The results have reopened the debate over whether the Scottish season should begin sooner so sides are able to hit the ground running in the Champions League and Europa League.

Hoops boss Lennon also called for the reintroduction of a winter break, which was scrapped almost 10 years ago in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

“I’d be in favour of a winter break, certainly,” Lennon said.

“In my first few years of Celtic, they brought it in. We found it very beneficial as players in the squad.

“The season didn’t run on too long after that into the summer.

“As regards playing these important games early, I do think it would be beneficial if we had some game time before we went into these games.”

Asked if the change should be adopted as quickly as possible, Lennon said: “If they can, yeah. It’s something that obviously we’d need to discuss with the SPL.”

Celtic went down 3-0 at Braga in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie on Wednesday night.

Lennon insisted his side could not use ring rust as an excuse as the match was also their opponents’ first competitive outing of the season.

Asked if his players were still hurting from Wednesday night’s result, Lennon said ahead of this afternoon’s Emirates Cup clash with Lyon: “They’d better be.”

The Parkhead manager plans to make “full use” of the 22-man squad he brought with him to London for the double-header against Lyon and Arsenal.

He insisted that would include fielding Aiden McGeady, who he revealed had recovered from the back injury which Lennon claimed had ruled him out of the Braga match.

McGeady’s future has been the subject of feverish speculation following a bid from Spartak Moscow and reported interest from Aston Villa and Tottenham.

One man who will not feature this weekend is former Real Zaragoza midfielder Peter Luccin, who is currently on trial at Parkhead.

“We tried to get Peter involved and it was only registered players who could play,” Lennon said.

“Possibly, we might get a look at him next week, in another friendly.

“Hopefully, we’ll have him in for a couple of days training next week as well.”

Lennon is also renewing his search for a new goalkeeper after number one target David James joined Bristol City.

Timo Hildebrand has claimed Celtic are interested in signing him but Lennon insisted yesterday there had been no discussions with the man who left Hoffenheim this summer.

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