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Lennon: Celtic players have hunger to push for ninth title

The Celtic boss expects challenges in the season ahead but is happy with his squad.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon says he can see in his players' eyes that they are ready to push for a record-equalling ninth consecutive title.

The league season begins with the champions playing host to St Johnstone as they begin their defence of all three domestic trophies. 

On top of that challenge the club is aiming to make inroads on the Champions League and Lennon believes the players have already shown him they have the hunger to succeed.

"I think we're all excited," he said. "It's been a good, productive six weeks since we came back in the middle of June.

"Obviously we've negotiated the two ties in the Champions League so in the competitive games we're up and running and done very well considering it's so early.

"Now the domestic campaign kicks off and we've asked the players 'Whether it's your first title, fifth, seventh or ninth, have you got the hunger to go again?'.

"You can see in their eyes that they are well set to go. I always think when you're challenged you give a little bit more and there's no question that we're going to be challenged again as we go along.

"Each time people take points off us or beat us it's a little victory for them and we want to avoid that.

"I'm pleased with the balance of the squad, I'm pleased with the individual and collective performances that I've seen so far. "

'We've asked the players 'Whether it's your first title, fifth, seventh or ninth, have you got the hunger to go again?''
Neil Lennon

Lennon said his side won't get it all their own way but wouldn't be drawn on whether rival sides would pose a tougher challenge this season. 

He said his focus was on Celtic and that he felt with players returning from injury that the team would get better yet.

"Winning games is hard," he said. "We go into a run of games now that's going to be very heavy and very competitive and we're asking all the squad to be ready when called upon.

"The focus has been good. Quiet and calm but the focus has been good.

"I've no idea [if the challenge from others will be tougher]. I don't like making predictions or looking too far ahead. 

"I think we've strengthened in areas we need to strengthen and we've got the likes of Griffiths almost back to full fitness, which we didn't have the luxury of for a long, long time. 

"Kieran's nearly fit, Tom Rogic and all those have to come in to what you've already seen so far.

"In some aspects we could be even stronger than we were at the end of last season."

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