Lennon eager to capitalise on AC Milan injury crisis

The Hoops manager has no sympathy for his opposite number, Massimiliano Allegri, with the Rossoneri’s many unavailables threatening to derail their Champions League hopes

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is hopeful that his young side can “catch AC Milan cold” in their Champions League Group H opener at the San Siro.

The Serie A giants drew 2-2 at Torino on Saturday, meaning that they have only won two of their first five games of the season, a slow start of which the Northern Irishman hopes to take advantage.

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“We hope to catch Milan cold a little bit because their coach probably hasn’t had the time to get a consistent run of form,” Lennon told reporters.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side have been hit by a catastrophic injury list which the coach has likened to a “wartime news bulletin”, with Kaka, Riccardo Montolivo, Andrea Poli, Stephan El Shaarawy, Giampaolo Pazzini, Ignazio Abate, Mattia De Sciglio, Matias Silvestre and Daniele Bonera all on the sidelines.

Lennon, however, is not offering any sympathy to his opposite number, remarking: “I can’t look too much into Milan’s problem, I have to concentrate on my own.

“The fact that he can maybe bring [Alessandro] Matri in to the team – he cost a lot of money; money that myself or my board of directors can only dream of paying for players. I can’t really offer up a lot of sympathy at this stage for him.”

One man still fit to play is Mario Balotelli, a striker whom Lennon holds in the highest regard.

“Balotelli is a wonderful footballer,” he enthsued. “Having seen him live for the first time on Saturday, he is very powerful, very skilful, takes the ball in under pressure from people and likes to get them turned. When he is in full flow, he is very quick and strong, can hold defenders off, he is a good finisher.

“People question his temperament but I would have him in my team if I had the opportunity. He was very popular in England at Manchester City, he is young, he has so much ahead of him in his career.”

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