NEIL Lennon has been urged to keep faith in the new boys who have helped Celtic record back-to-back wins for the first time in over two months in the Scottish Cup final – and consider leaving Odsonne Edouard out too.

Lennon dropped his captain Scott Brown as well as Ryan Christie and brought in Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull last week - and the Parkhead club duly beat Lille 3-2 in the Europa League and Kilmarnock 2-0 in the Premiership.

The Northern Irishman indicated on Sunday that he could reinstate the players who helped his side reach the final when the quadruple treble chasers take on Hearts at Hampden on Sunday.

However, Frank McAvennie, who helped his boyhood heroes win the Premier League and Scottish Cup double in their centenary year in 1988, believes he should stick with Soro and Turnbull.

“Nobody has a God-given right to play in a cup final,” he said. “I know the captain, Scott Brown, will be hurting that he hasn’t been playing, but I think Lenny needs to go with the boys who are in the team now, especially Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull.

“They’ve won two games in a row for the first time in months and I think he’s got to give them a run. The supporters are happy with them, they’ve given the side energy and enthusiasm – when these two boys lose the ball, the immediately look to get it back.

“The players who’d been in before them hadn’t been doing that. Having competition for places is a good thing in sport and some of those Celtic players haven’t had that for a while.

“I think they thought they were guaranteed a place but that’s not the case any more now that these boys have come in. I think Celtic will buy again in January, but right now Soro and Turnbull have to play at Hampden this weekend.

“If Lenny changes the starting XI and leaves them out and they end up losing then he’s going to have lots of problems and they’ll be self-inflicted because he doesn’t need to make changes.”

McAvennie added: “I didn’t understand why they signed Turnbull and then didn’t play him because he was one of the most sought-after players in Scottish football. I realise that he had to get up to speed at Celtic, but he’s walked in against Lille and Kilmarnock and he doesn’t look out of place.

“It baffles me that he wasn’t getting a game before now. Obviously, the manager works with him at training every day and I don’t know what he sees, but I’m delighted that he’s taken his chance.

“Soro’s done that too – he made more tackles against Lille than I’ve seen from a Celtic player in any match for a very long time. He has a tenacity to his game, he wants to win the ball. He reminds me of Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante or even Dennis Wise, who was a nasty little sod but he would graft and Turnbull puts a shift in, too.

“You can’t pick players on Sunday just to give them a last hurrah – Turnbull and Soro have earned their place.”

Edouard scored both of Celtic’s goals in the Scottish Cup final against Hearts last season – as McAvennie did against Dundee United back in 1988 - when Neil Lennon’s team came from behind to triumph 2-1.

But the former Scotland striker feels the French forward has, who tested positive for coronavirus back in October, not been at his best in recent weeks and would like to see either Leigh Griffiths given the nod on Sunday.

“He (Lennon) has to do something because he (Edouard) is not linking with the midfielders,” he said. “All of a sudden he has two players who are willing to get close to him. Maybe he tries too hard and he just needs to touch it off.

“We all know that Edouard is a wonderful talent, but some strikers need a bit of confidence. I just don’t get how he can go away and do so well for the French under-21 side and then come back and be in Celtic’s reserves.

“I’d play Griffiths. With Griffiths, Lenny keeps saying that he needs to get fit. If that’s the case then someone has to get him fit and surely that’s the manager’s job or, if it’s not him, then the coaches. But I think he’s the best finisher at the club.

“Edouard’s a better player but Griffiths has the edge when it comes to taking chances. I’d then put Patryk Klimala ahead of Albian Ajeti.”

Frank McAvennie was speaking to promote Premier Sports coverage of the Betfred Cup match between St Mirren v Rangers live and exclusive from 7.30pm on Wednesday. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player. Prices start from £9.99 per month.