Chris Sutton, the outspoken BT Sport pundit, believes that Hbernian manager Neil Lennon is the natural replacement for Brendan Rodgers, should the current Celtic boss be enticed elsewhere in the near future.

Rodgers is reported to be on a four-man shortlist at Chelsea should Antonio Conte leave the London club at the end of the season, while Arsenal and Spurs have also been credited with an interest in the 45-year-old.

Rodgers has maintained throughout any speculation linking him away from Celtic that he is in his “dream job” but inevitably there will come a point when there is an allure to head either south of the border or to dip his toe into Continental management.

Read more: Celtic winger James Forrest expects fired up Neil Lennon at Easter Road on Saturday

In any case, Sutton has maintained that Lennon would the obvious candidate for a return to the Celtic dugout. Lennon, who has played, captained and managed Celtic, was shortlisted for a return to the position when Rodgers succeeded Ronny Deila in June 2016. And his former team-mate believes that his time at Easter Road has reinfireced his credentials should there be an opening again any time soon.

“The interesting thing from Brendan’s point of view is that if he wins the double Treble - and it would be an unbelievable achievement and never been done before - the pressure will be on in Europe,” said former Celtic striker.

“We’ve all seen the European performances this season. Does he see this squad competing in the Champions League with four qualifiers next season?

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“In England there are people who are being disrespectful about Scottish football and Celtic and saying it’s a load of rubbish and anyone could do what he’s doing.

“They are asking if he should be given a chance if a big gun comes in. Arsenal have been mentioned and is reportedly on a four-man shortlist for Chelsea.

“I think he would be well courted so if it left an opportunity at Celtic who would be the next fit? I don’t know the relationship between Neil Lennon and Peter Lawwell after he left.

“But in terms of the job he has done at Hibs, the affection he’s held by the Celtic support and the fact he’s really maturing as a coach then he’d be well up there in the pecking order if Brendan ended up leaving.”

Not that Sutton expects there to be any sentimentality as the teams clash at Easter Road on Saturday afternoon.

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Celtic require three points to formally anoint them as champions for the seventh successive season but with second place still in the sight of Hibs, Sutton has rebuffed any suggestion that there will be any favours handed out. With Rangers in dissarray, Lennon can close in on second spot, an achievement that would be particularly impressive given that the Leith side have only just come back into the top flight following promotion last term.

“Having played with Neil he is a fierce competitor and he will not be caring about Celtic,” said the Englishman.

“Hibs are on a good run and he’ll be looking at what happened with Aberdeen and Rangers and thinking about second.

“That’s not unreasonable and it makes Saturday’s game really interesting as if they win it gives them a real opportunity for second place.

“I think Neil was on BT a year ago and was asked about his realistic aims and he said second place. I was laughing inside.

“I thought it was absolute madness. But they are a team which has come in and over-achieved.

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“You can look at what’s gone wrong at Rangers and Aberdeen, but Neil will be focusing on Hibs and if they did it would be a remarkable achievement to finish above Aberdeen and Rangers.

“Neil won’t be focusing on Rangers and Aberdeen, he’ll be thinking about getting his team organised and giving Celtic a good game.

“To be fair to Hibs they have given Celtic some tough games this season and really gone at them.

“Maybe he’d have learned lessons from the weekend and understand that you have to be really positive against Celtic.

“Look at the goals Celtic have conceded in the league – they are strong at the back but we’ve all seen Celtic and we’d all agree that there’s a vulnerability about Celtic at the back. That is their Achilles heel.

“There is no point sitting in and let superior players dictate the game to you.

“At home, the onus is on Hibs and he’ll have a go. That’s the right way to do it.” Interest will be piqued again with John McGinn’s performance. The 23-year-old’s burgeoning reputation has seen him linked repeatedly with a move to Celtic with the assumption being that he could ultimately take on Scott Brown’s midfield role. Sutton, though, believes that of note is the current situation of Stuart Armstrong whom McGinn could succeed.

Read more: Celtic winger James Forrest expects fired up Neil Lennon at Easter Road on Saturday

“I don’t think that’s unreasonable,” he said when asked about McGinn’s suitability for Celtic. “I’ve been really impressed with McGinn and Dylan McGeouch at Hibs.

“Scott Brown can’t go on forever. At the moment it looks like he can with the level of performance, but I think McGinn is developing into a top player. But Armstrong is an interesting one when you look at the sort of turmoil there was over his last contract. He didn’t want to commit to Celtic long-term and what happens now is that they are in the same boat again and with Armstrong I think there is every chance that he will end up leaving. This time around I don’t think he is in the position to really dictate terms with the level of performance that has been there. I am not saying that he has been that bad but neither has he kicked on.”