Derby timing perfect for Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Lennon and his players returned from Spain on Friday afternoon

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes Sunday's Old Firm game is the perfect match for his team to be playing following a European defeat.

Lennon's men lost 2-0 to Atletico Madrid in their opening Europa League Group I match on Thursday.

Hosts Rangers, on the other hand, have had a full week to prepare for the opening Glasgow derby of the season.

"Going from the European game into the Old Firm game is probably the best thing that can happen," Lennon said.

"Sometimes you can come back from a European game and there is a flatness going about your SPL duties but with a game of this magnitude, it can be easy to motivate the players."

The Celtic boss had the upper hand over Rangers in last season's seven Old Firm clashes, winning three, drawing two and losing two.

However, Rangers won both the Scottish Premier League and the League Cup and Celtic ended the season with a Scottish Cup triumph.

Since then, the Ibrox side have changed their manager with former assistant Ally McCoist taking over from Walter Smith.

"It's a new season, Rangers are a bit fresher with new players and we have improved the squad as well," said Lennon.

"It's the first Old Firm derby and you can't dictate which way it is going to go, but it won't be a season-breaker one way or the other."

Captain Scott Brown could make his comeback from injury and Lennon is keen for his skipper to return.

"You always miss a player like Scott," added Lennon.

"He has a good attitude, he is a good athlete with good running power and he is also a good team-mate who reads the game very well.

"He has shown good leadership qualities since I took over. The team played well (against Atletico Madrid) but you can always do with someone of his quality in the team."

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