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Pardew back at St James'


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Real Madrid
By ESPN Staff

Lennon will bounce back from Old Firm defeat

Celtic boss Neil Lennon wants the Old Firm defeat by Rangers to be viewed in context as his side look to bounce back against St Johnstone in Wednesday night's Co-operative Insurance Cup quarter-final clash at McDiarmid Park.

Celtic lost their 100% record in the Premier League to their bitter rivals who went three points clear at the top of the table. Much of the fall-out from the encounter centred on the Celtic boss' criticism of referee Willie Collum for awarding Rangers a penalty in the second half of the 3-1 win for the visitors.

However, Lennon's players have also come under scrutiny, and the former Parkhead captain said: "I have thought long and hard over the weekend and hopefully the next time we play Rangers we will be better.

"I analysed the game to see where we could have done better. We made basic mistakes for the first two goals and we were punished. But it's not as if the championship was decided on Sunday.

"It is so early in the season. I maintained all along that it wouldn't have a bearing on the course of the season, the third and fourth Old Firm games are usually the make or break ones. So it's not all doom and gloom, we have only lost one SPL game this season albeit to our major rivals.

"We all feel a bit raw but the best way back is to put in the positive performance although it won't be easy at St Johnstone. It's all about the character of the players and we will be motivating them as best we can.

"We have been playing very, very well and the players will learn from that experience on Sunday and come back better players and as a better team.''

Saints boss Derek McInnes does not expect Celtic to be affected by their Old Firm defeat and insists his side will still have to perform to their very best if they are to clinch a semi-final spot.

"Celtic don't often lose two on the bounce so Neil will surely get a response from his players,'' the McInnes said. "They have proved themselves so far this season. They came up against a strong Rangers side in the second half but there wasn't much in it in the first half.

"Goals change games and when Rangers went ahead it was difficult for Celtic to get back. But they have shown under Neil that they have added a spirit to go with their talent. So I don't expect anything other than a good Celtic team.

"We need a lot of players to put in big performances and if we do that then we can win. We are desperate to do well in the cup, it is important to us for several reasons including financially. I didn't want to play either of the Old Firm but we have Celtic and we are at home so hopefully that can help us.''


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