Celtic 4 Motherwell 0
Neil Lennon will wait in hope that skipper Scott Brown declares himself fit for Celtic’s two important games this week.
The Scotland midfielder was missing with an ongoing ankle problem as the Hoops hammered Motherwell 4-0 in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Parkhead to set themselves up for the trip to Spain to play Atletico Madrid in their Europa League group opener on Thursday night.
James Forrest helped himself to a brace with further goals from Joe Ledley and Ki Sung-yueng to keep Celtic one point behind SPL leaders Rangers, whom they meet in the first Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox next Sunday.
The Celtic boss claimed the win over Well was his side’s best performance of the season but he is still hoping for Brown to be available for the trip to Spain.
“It is one of those injuries where he needs rest but with the fixtures it is difficult to give him that rest,” said Lennon.
“He tweaked it a little bit on Thursday and it was too sore to even train on Friday. It’s not like Scott to be like that, if he pulls out of training he must be in a bit of pain. So we will see how he is on Tuesday and hopefully he will be okay for Thursday.
“He is such a good player and a valuable player for us, I don’t like leaving him out at anytime and Thursday is a different type of game.
“Away from home in Europe he is the type of player that I would want in the team. We won’t have the lion’s share of possession and won’t create as many chances as we did today.
“We are hoping he will get through the two games but I will have to be advised by the medical team on that and obviously Scott himself.
“If I could choose it would probably be Sunday for the league is the priority. But it would be a bonus if we had him for both games.”
Lennon singled out man-of-the match Forrest for special praise.
“James was superb,” he said. “We are trying to sort of break him in because he is prone to picking up niggling injuries.
“That is only the second start of the season but that’s his best performance I’ve seen from him, he was exceptional and I’ve known him a while.
“It was an excellent win, the best we’ve played this season,” he added. “I thought we were dynamic at times.
“I am delighted with the manner of the performance, the result and the four goals. That was more like us from last year.”
Lennon was also pleased with his two debutants. Badr El-Kaddouri, on loan from Dinamo Kiev, started as left-back and Mohamed Bangura, the striker signed on a four-year deal from AIK, came on as a second-half substitute.
The former Celtic skipper also made a joke about Bangura, claiming he might only be at Parkhead for a year if he plays well enough to attract clubs from bigger leagues in Europe.
Lennon said: “I thought it was an excellent debut (from Badr) and he showed all the attributes we expected from him.
“Mohamed is lively, he played on the shoulder and stretched Motherwell and he was always looking to get into the box. According to him, we have only got him for a year so I will have to make the most of him.”
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall bemoaned the loss of defender Shaun Hutchinson, who returned after recovering from a hamstring injury only to be replaced by Chris Humphrey in the first half after picking up an ankle knock.
The former Rangers midfielder said: “The one massive negative apart from the result is that Shaun Hutchinson is on crutches.
“We can’t afford injuries to too many players, Steven Saunders is out and it looks like Shaun’s could also be long term.
“His ankle is like a balloon and whether it is a crack or ligaments, I don’t know but it is a massive downside. It was disappointing defeat but it is the way we bounce back now. I am sure the lads will be positive when they come in on Monday.”