NEIL Lennon has conceded Celtic have a serious title race on their hands this season and can’t live on former glories and expect to make history and complete 10-In-A-Row.

Lennon’s understrength side were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Rangers at Parkhead this afternoon and are now four points behind their city rivals in the Premiership with a game in hand.

The Northern Irishman, who was missing no fewer than six first team regulars, insisted the Scottish champions can bounce back from the painful defeat and win the league this term.

However, he feels the Glasgow club must perform far better in the coming months if they want to overtake their much improved city rivals and maintain their domestic dominance.

“It gives Rangers a lift obviously,” said Lennon. “It’s early in the season though and you can’t listen to all the noise outside. Can they respond? Absolutely. They’ve done it before.

“But they can’t live in the past. This is the present and we’ve got a title race on our hands and we have to roll out sleeves up and do better.

“I have no idea if these (Old Firm) games will be vital. If they are then we will have to make up for it over time.

“We’ve got a game in hand we have to win and assess where we are from there. You can’t base everything on four games a season, you have to be consistent all year.”

Lennon refused to blame the absence of Nir Bitton, Ryan Christie, Odsonne Edouard, Hatem Elhamed, who were all ruled out by coronavirus, and James Forrest and Christopher Jullien, who were injured, for Celtic’s poor display.

“We gave away poor goals,” he said. “That was the game in a nutshell. It was really poor from a set play early on so we were bitterly disappointed with that.

“From then on we did okay. We had a great chance to equalise with Moi (Elyounoussi) and I thought we deserved to come in at least level at half time.

“The second goal was really poor, the second phase from a corner wasn’t dealt with. We didn’t stop the cross and I felt that was the difference between the sides. Rangers defended their box better than us.”

Lennon added: “Of course we felt we had enough. There’s nothing you can do about players that are not available.

“I thought we ran out ideas in the second half. The subs didn’t really have an impact as you can see they were not fit enough. We really needed a spark.”