Strachan urges Lennon to forget about ‘spit row’

CELTIC manager Gordon Strachan has urged Neil Lennon to drop his ongoing row with Hearts midfielder Rudi Skacel.

The Jambos player has protested his innocence after the Hoops captain accused him of spitting at him during the game at Tynecastle on Sunday. Lennon was cautioned for his reaction after the incident but Strachan believes a photograph in one of yesterday’s newspapers “says it all”.

The picture appears to show Skacel spitting in the direction of Lennon.

Strachan said yesterday: “We have a problem with the booking because it means Lenny misses the first game of next season now.

“Lenny is an angry man, but my advice to him would be to put it away now. The pictures this morning need no more words – they say it all. Whatever happens I cannot do anything about it.”

Strachan also refused to respond to Hearts majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov’s swipe at Celtic. The outspoken Lithuanian was unimpressed by the Scottish Premier League champions in the Jambos’ 3-0 win at the weekend.

Strachan added: “The war of words didn’t come from Celtic, that’s for sure. I was concerned with how we played and I held my hands up and said the other team played the most effective football.

“There was no war of words from us because we congratulated them. It is only a war of words if you argue but we have just made a statement. That was a statement from the captain and he is big enough and old enough to make them.”

Strachan believes his team also deserve credit for the “grace” they have shown this season – in victory and defeat.

Kilmarnock assistant boss Billy Brown claimed the Hoops had been “lucky” in their 4-1 win at Rugby Park last month. But, ahead of the visit of Killie tonight the Celtic boss insists his team have proved they know how to handle defeat.

Strachan added: “The funny thing is, with every team we have beaten, everybody says we were lucky. When we get beat, we pick up our bags and go again.

“Sometimes, in defeat and in victory, you have to know how to handle it. We think we can handle both and have showed that. Against Artmedia Bratislava and Clyde, there were no excuses from us.

“We took everything that was thrown at us but showed we can get beaten with grace and win with grace. That is part of the club and we will continue to do that. We could use some of the excuses clubs have used against is, but we are bigger and better than that.”

Strachan also denied a feud was brewing with Scotland boss Walter Smith over his wish to withdraw Shaun Maloney, Stephen McManus and David Marshall from the Kirin Cup.

Celtic are to play in testimonials for Roy Keane at Man United and in Newcastle for Alan Shearer on May 9 and 11 respectively.

The Hoops boss is also looking to include Stilian Petrov and Shunsuke Nakamura in his squad for the two-game trip to England, although the pair are wanted by Bulgaria and Japan respectively for the tournament in the Far East.

Strachan smiled: “I will continue my private conversations with Walter Smith because he loves my conversations. As a former Old Firm manager, Walter knows the unusual circumstances of being at Celtic or Rangers.

“They are supposed to be meaningless testimonials but there will be close to 125,000 people going for those two games. We will be taking down 25,000 so try telling them they’re meaningless. If they are meaningless, why do people report on these matches and go to exotic places in the summer with us?”

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