Neil Lennon has told his players that places are up for grabs ahead of the May 25th cup final against Hearts.
The Celtic interim boss made the reveal after today’s 2-0 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox. Celtic will round off their Premiership campaign at home to the Jambos next Sunday.
Before today’s match at Ibrox, it would’ve been easy to assume the starting XI for the cup final. But the dreadful display from Lennon’s side today has obviously made him think twice.
And speaking to Celtic TV afterward, the Hoops boss stated that there are plenty of spots up for grabs.
“They look a bit tired, a bit fatigued. But we’ve got another big game coming up in two weeks’ time. But I’m disappointed with the level of performance, there’s no question of that. We got what we deserved today.
“There’s places up for grabs for the cup final, there’s no question about that. Obviously we want to finish off the season with a win on trophy day and then look forward to the cup final because it’s a huge game for us.”
Who can fight their way in for two weeks’ time?
You have to wonder just who is there left to get their shot under Lennon.
For example, Oliver Burke, Jeremy Toljan, and Mikey Johnston all got opportunities today and didn’t take them. So it’s difficult to see many other out-of-favour players who’ll get their chance.
Olivier Ntcham is one who could demand a chance next weekend. Lennon could do with injecting something into the midfield, particularly after such a lackluster performance today.
But throwing in players like Ewan Henderson, Filip Benkovic, and Nir Bitton for the Hearts clash next week or on cup final day seems unrealistic. Celtic outcasts only have one more game to prove themselves, and it’s difficult to see Lennon giving many that chance so late in the day.
Of course, potential injuries to James Forrest and Kieran Tierney could open up places. That would give the likes of Burke, Johnston, Jonny Hayes, and Emilio Izaguirre something to fight for.
But outside of that it’s difficult to see why Lennon would change much at this point. It’s fresh investment we need, not players that can’t even get into the current starting XI.
Today was a massive slap in the face to the benchwarmers who had their chance to impress. But Lennon’s admission remains interesting, and his line-up for Hearts could reflect that too.