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Lennon: we never asked SPL for help with fixture moves

Neil Lennon is perplexed by Scottish Premier League secretary Iain Blair's revelation that fixtures cannot be moved to help Celtic with their Champions League hopes.

Amid a packed schedule the Hoops will play in the last 16 of European football's elite competition in February and Blair was reported today as saying: "Logistically, it just isn't possible to reschedule games at this time."

Ahead of tomorrow night's William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round replay against Irn-Bru Second Division side Arbroath at Gayfield Park, the Parkhead boss responded: "We have never asked for it (help) so I don't know where this story has come from.

"I don't know why people are asking Iain Blair but Iain has come out and said that it is going to be very difficult to do that.

"It would put the SPL in a difficult position because they have been criticised for not helping teams in the past so I wouldn't expect that to happen to us. We will deal with it."

Lennon is looking for his side to continue their good recent form against the Red Lichties who snatched a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park in the first game.

The Hoops qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League last week with a 2-1 home win over Spartak Moscow then followed that up with a sparkling display against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park to take them three points clear of Inverness at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

The former Celtic skipper said: "We are taking this game very seriously. It is a different competition but one where we have had no recent success and we would like to progress so it is another important game.

"The way things have been going in the last week to 10 days, you want to keep that feel-good factor going and this is potentially very dangerous.

"I have been on the end of a few cup upsets as a player and a manager and I don't want that to happen tomorrow."

Lennon, who has defender Mikael Lustig and midfielder Paddy McCourt back after recovering from hamstring injuries, knows his players will have to cope with the more basic surroundings of Gayfield Park, despite playing at some famous stadiums this season such as the Nou Camp in Barcelona, Spartak Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium and Benfica's Stadium of Light in Lisbon.

The Northern Irishman said: "It will be a new experience for me going to Arbroath and for most of the players as well.

"But in the last couple of years we have been at Berwick and Peterhead (in the cup) so we know the attitude has to be right.

"I don't know what the conditions will be like so we will have to adapt to them as best we can and play accordingly."

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