Lennon's plea to Stark

PA Sport
Neil Lennon questioned the need to play friendlies amid a cramped competitive schedule
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Neil Lennon questioned the need to play friendlies amid a cramped competitive schedule

Neil Lennon is looking for Scotland caretaker boss Billy Stark to make the national team a Celtic-free zone this week after claiming fatigue had caught up with his players in their 1-1 Clydesdale Bank Premier League draw with St Johnstone at Parkhead.

With a game at Aberdeen next Saturday before a trip to Benfica in the Champions League the following week amid a relentless schedule, the Celtic boss is looking for Stark to leave Charlie Mulgrew and Kris Commons on the sidelines in the Luxembourg friendly on Wednesday night.

Hoops winger James Forrest was left out of Stark's squad with a hamstring complaint and skipper Scott Brown has been excused duty due to his ongoing hip complaint. Lennon said: "I have spoken to Billy already but I might give him a call again tomorrow. I don't know if Charlie is fit enough to go now after today, we will see how he is tomorrow."

Lennon added: "Billy understands and that's the reason Scott is not in the squad and James is obviously out. The two of them (Mulgrew and Commons) have been picked but does he really need to play them at this stage of the season?

Substitute Tony Watt, on at the break for Miku, put the home side ahead in the 51st minute but Saints fought back and levelled in the 76th minute through Nigel Hasselbaink to leave the Hoops two points behind Hibernian at the top of the table, albeit with a game in hand.

"It's a great opportunity this week to give players rest, we haven't been able to do that for a month," Lennon said. "It has been game after game. Aberdeen and Benfica are two monumental games, especially Benfica, and could shape our season.

"So why are these fixtures being played, we are only a month since the (World Cup qualifying) double-header? In the midst of all the games we have, this is the last thing I need or my players need."

Saints boss Steve Lomas apologised to referee Iain Brines after being sent to the stand in the second half for complaining to the referee over his decision to let Watt back on after receiving treatment.

He said: "I have been into see Iain and I have apologised for my language. The rule is he can't enter the field into an advantageous position. But he did, running down our wing unopposed to put a cross into the box, and if they had scored from that we would have felt very hard done by."

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