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Impressive end-of-year report, but Lennon covets improvement

Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, last night claimed his players do not get the credit they deserve for reaching almost the halfway point in the SPFL Premiership without a defeat.

Neil Lennon wants new faces to 'inject freshness' into a squad unbeaten in the league. Craig Williamson/SNS
Neil Lennon wants new faces to 'inject freshness' into a squad unbeaten in the league. Craig Williamson/SNS

Kris Commons scored after only two minutes yesterday as the cham­pions beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1-0 in their final game of the year, taking their unbeaten league run to 18 games since the start of the season. They remain 11 points clear at the top of the table and have recorded six consecutive clean sheets in domestic games, albeit Barcelona put six past them at Camp Nou during that sequence.

"There are times when you have to be physical and grind it out, and that's what we've done in the last two games," said Lennon, alluding to the consecutive 1-0 away wins against St Johnstone and Inverness. "I'm delighted with where we are and with the clean sheets we are keeping, and I'm pretty sure there will be a flood of goals coming pretty soon. We've scored in every league game this year and that's quite an achievement. It shows that we do try to go out and be forward thinking and score goals.

"It's been a really good two years for the club. We've sold £20m worth of players and that's a big deal for the club. It's a big deal going forward. To replace those players you need to spend £20m and we are not in a position to do that, but we are unbeaten and I think the players deserve a lot of plaudits for that. At times I don't think we get the credit we deserve. I think people just expect us to turn up and roll teams over but it's never as easy as that.

"I think Kris is maturing and at the peak of his career. It was a great goal, really well worked, and he showed great quality today.

"We are building. It's a new team and we want to get an injection of freshness into the squad in January because it is a bit thin. Am I closer to getting any players in? I couldn't tell you really. We are hoping to start getting into it over the next week or so. We have made slight inroads but we are nowhere near anything concrete yet. We are working very, very hard as we always do and I'm hoping to come out this January stronger." But Lennon dismissed a report that Celtic intend to sign Huddersfield Town's Scottish left-back, Paul Dixon.

Both sides now face New Year's Day derbies: Celtic at home to Partick Thistle and Inverness at home to Ross County. The Highlanders' manager, John Hughes, was satisfied with his team's performance yesterday despite the defeat. "In terms of playing football and passing: very good. In terms of ball retention: very good. We lacked a bit of penetration."

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