Lennon: We are not there yet

The Hoops are 2-0 up from the first leg in Sweden, with most

people believing the return game in Glasgow to be no more than a

formality.

Perhaps the Celtic boss was worried defender Thomas Rogne,

skipper Scott Brown, striker Georgios Samaras and midfielder Kris

Commons, who all missed Saturday’s 4-2 win at Inverness, will fail

fitness tests and leave his squad stretched to the limit.

However, several times during the pre-match press conference at

Lennoxtown on Tuesday, Lennon was at pains to stress that the tie

is still alive.

“I am sitting here a lot more comfortable than I would be if it

was 0-0 or 1-1 or we were chasing the game,” he said.

“We are at home but we know the tie is not over yet.

“I am not getting ahead of myself. We still have to qualify

against a very good, motivated Helsingborg team.

“I can’t look too far ahead. Football has a funny way of kicking

you when you think you have cracked it.

“We have prepared as low-key as we possibly can for this game

because we know there is a lot of hype surrounding it and we are

trying to protect the players from it.

“Really, we just want to get the game started.”

Defender Charlie Mulgrew sang from the same hymn sheet as Lennon

as he revealed his gaffer has warned against complacency.

“Nobody in that dressing room thinks the tie is done, not at

all,” he said.

“The manager has drilled that home to us that we can’t get

complacent, it is only half-time and there is a long way to go.

“Of course the mind is wandering, thinking of who you could play

but you have to try your best not to do that and to do the job

first.

“We are not thinking we are 2-0 up. It will be in the back of

our mind somewhere but we have to go out and do the job and try to

win the game.

“We are playing at Celtic Park and we will go and look to win

the game and hopefully we will do that.”

Asked if he could put the game in the context of his Celtic

career, the Scotland international said: “It is probably the

biggest. It is massive for the club and all the players involved

but we will be approaching it as just another game.

“We know what we have to do and we will concentrate on that.

“We won’t get sucked into the hype too much. We know there is

still a job to be done and we expect a hard game.”

Lennon, who is looking to take the Parkhead club in to the group

stages of the competition for the first time since season 2008/09,

did not look too confident when discussing his injury doubts.

“We still have a few nagging doubts regarding the boys we left

out at the weekend so we will see how they are tomorrow,” he

said.

“Thomas has an ankle problem, Kris has an on-going ankle problem

and Scott (is a doubt) with a sore groin.

“Some might not be fit to play, some might, so we will just have

to gauge that tomorrow.

“But apart from that, we came through the game at the weekend

injury-free so we will have a decent-sized squad to pick from.”

The former Celtic skipper confirmed striker Mo Bangura has

returned to AIK Stockholm on loan after his ?2.2million move from

the Swedish club last year proved unsuccessful.

“He is away back to Stockholm for a year’s loan,” he added.

“He is still our player but he needs to play some football and

get himself going again.

“Possibly the expectation of the price tag weighs a little bit

on younger players at times.

“We know he is a talent but he has been hampered by injuries. He

is fit now and we think it is a good time for him to go and play

football and come back here a better player.”

Lennon admitted the club had expressed an interest in Auxerre

defender Willy Boly and Rosenborg midfielder Markus Henriksen, but

denied making a move for former Liverpool and Manchester United

striker Michael Owen.