Dundee Utd V Celtic – view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.
Kayal will be dealt with – Lennon
Neil Lennon will deal with Beram Kayal for his controversial quotes about Rangers skipper Lee McCulloch and Scottish football – but only because his midfielder did not seek permission to give the interview.
The Israel international, speaking to a newspaper in his homeland earlier in the week, claimed McCulloch was a dirty player who deliberately injured him during an Old Firm encounter at Celtic Park in 2011, with the 25-year-old consequently spending several months on the sidelines.
It was also reported that Kayal, who joined the Parkhead club in 2010, claimed there is a “lack of technique” in the Scottish game.
However, the Hoops boss, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership, put the controversy down to “mischief-making” within the Scottish media.
“In terms of his quotes, I am not entirely convinced that they are factually correct. Having spoken to him and seen parts of the interview, I do believe there has been a bit of mischief-making on this side of the continent,” he said.
“However, he did it without my consent so I am obviously not pleased with that and he knows that and he will be dealt with.
“I think those quotes about league, certainly, were entirely misconstrued and the context of the interview in essence, there has been bits and pieces taken out of it to suit a certain spin, if you want to put it that way.
“I know it is an easy excuse, but I think he has a valid argument in this.
“But the issue is that he did it without my consent or the club’s consent, and we regard that as a misdemeanour and he will be dealt with.”
While it appeared that Kayal was angling to leave the champions at the end of the season, Lennon insists he still has a part to play.
“I don’t think he has been happy because he has not been playing, but I think he is happy being at Celtic and it is up to him to show what he can do,” the Northern Irishman said.
“He has found it difficult to get back into the team, such has been the form of Scott Brown, Stefan Johansen and Charlie Mulgrew, but he will get an opportunity between now and the end of the season.
“I know there is still a very good player in there, but it is difficult for him to replicate the form of his first 18 months here, due to horrendous injuries.”
The former Celtic skipper has also had to deal with Leigh Griffiths, who was issued with a notice of complaint by the Scottish Football Association this week for “singing in public about Hearts in administration”.
The 23-year-old, who joined the Parkhead club from Wolves in January after having spent two spells on loan at boyhood heroes Hibs, was filmed before last Sunday’s Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle, which he attended, chanting about the Gorgie club’s plight and was cited on rule 86, which relates to “not acting in the best interests of association football”.
A principal hearing date of April 24 has been set for the case, which Celtic will defend, although they have fined the player and apologised to Hearts.
“I wasn’t over enamoured with it. We have dealt with it as a club and we have told him there is a certain code of conduct he has to adhere to when he is here at Celtic,` said Lennon, who will be without several first-team players again.
Defender Adam Matthews and utility player Charlie Mulgrew are still sidelined with hamstring injuries while right-back Darnell Fisher is out with a knee injury.
Midfielder Nir Biton and wide man James Forrest remain on the sidelines with groin injuries, along with winger Derk Boerrigter, who has an abdomen problem.
Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara has told his players they cannot afford to take their eye off the ball in the slightest when they face the champions.
The Tangerines take on Lennon’s side in Saturday’s lunchtime encounter, with the visitors having won the league title with some weeks still to spare.
Celtic were held by Ross County before they celebrated in front of their fans last weekend, but McNamara does not believe settling the title will make their Glasgow opponents any easier to face.
McNamara knows former Parkhead team-mate Lennon has drilled into his players the importance of bowing out on a high with just a few games left between now and the end of the season.
He said: “Celtic deserve to be champions. They have been the best team again and shown very high levels of consistency.
“They have got to where they want to be and it’s happened with a few games still to go. But that doesn’t mean they are about to slacken off in any way. I’m sure they will approach this game as they would any other one.
“They will want to win it because they are a group of professionals who always want the best.
“Last weekend they drew at home to Ross County and there was some talk of them not being at their best. But that’s just the way of things at a big club like Celtic. I’ve been there myself.
“So in no way are we thinking that Saturday’s game might be any less difficult just because the league race is over.”
United welcome back striker Nadir Ciftci and left-back Andrew Robertson from suspension.
Curtis Good, on loan from Newcastle, is still out with a hip injury, while fellow defender Callum Butcher is struggling with a leg knock.