Neil Lennon explained Ismaila Soro absence pre-match, again questioned Celtic players' mentality

By John McGinley

February 2, 2021

Neil Lennon explained tonight’s Celtic team selection and the absence of Ismaila Soro against Kilmarnock in his pre-match interview on Sky Sports.

The Bhoys boss dropped a number of players for the visit to Ayrshire – most notably Soro, Shane Duffy and Leigh Griffiths.

Soro has been one of the better Celtic performers over the last couple of months. However, Lennon chose to bring captain Scott Brown right back into the team despite a recent red card at Livingston.

It’s Brown’s first start for the club since December’s Scottish Cup Final against Hearts.

Lennon explained his thinking on Sky Sports pre-match (19:41): “We’ve got Jonjoe in.

“I think Soro is struggling with a bit of fatigue. He’s a young player, he’s played a lot of games recently. So it’s important we take him out and give him a rest, obviously Scott is fit.

“I wasn’t happy with the strikers at the weekend so we’ve made a change there as well. That’s purely tactical more than anything else.”

The Celtic manager again questioned the mentality of his Celtic players too.

It was that side of the game he wanted to see improvement in tonight.

Lennon told Sky Sports (19:41): “The mental side of the game has to be important now. I think physically they’re fine, I think their mentality has to be a lot better than what they showed on Saturday.

“They need to use their professional pride to go out and play for the club and then kick on from there. That’s what I’m after.”

So far the decision to bring Brown into the team has been a good one. It was the captain who got on to the end of a David Turnbull corner to score his first goal of the season.

Scott Brown celebrates scoring for Celtic / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s his first effort for the club since a victory over Clyde in last season’s Scottish Cup and puts Celtic 1-0 up heading into the interval.

The performance is improved all-round at the time of publishing. In the first half at least there’s been a decent reaction to the weekend’s defeat.

Has Lennon found what he was looking for?

In other news, the 5 transfer targets Celtic missed out on in January.