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Lennon: It's not all doom and gloom at Celtic right now

The manager believes the 'narrative' his side are toiling is misplaced.

Lennon says Celtic are "bullish" about their prospects.
Lennon says Celtic are "bullish" about their prospects. SNS Group

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has dismissed suggestions Celtic are suffering long-term effects from their Champions League exit and said they have an opportunity to prove that against AIK Stockholm.

The shock home defeat to CFR Cluj last week ended their hopes of reaching the group stage of the elite competition but the Scottish champions are now just two games away from the Europa League group stage.

The warm-up for the tie didn't go entirely to plan with Lennon's side needing extra time to beat Championship side Dunfermline in the League Cup but the manager believes the reaction to that and the Cluj game has created a false impression of his side.

"It's not me that is creating the headlines or shouting out the criticism," he said. "We've lost one game - I didn't believe we deserved to and that's the harsh realities of the game.

"We're fine. We're absolutely fine.

"It's like everyone out there is head down. We're not. We're bullish and looking forward to the games.

"There has to be a sense or perspective. There has been a little bit of hysteria at times. That is the environment you're in in Glasgow."

Celtic are now looking to put on a strong performance at home to AIK and put one foot in the group stages and Lennon believes the mood in his squad is positive and rightly so.

"We've lost one game, so it's not all doom and gloom," he said. "We have to be bullish about things and look forward. It's a big disappointment to be out of the Champions League but the Europa League is a very good competition that hopefully we can prosper in.

"There's a narrative going around that we might be a little bit off colour. We're absolutely not and hopefully the players can go out and show that tomorrow.

"People are entitled to criticise me and the players but there has to be a sense of balance.

"Obviously the players want to show they have some European pedigree. We have the makings of a very good team and I hope that manifests itself (on Thursday night).

"It's important we get through. It gives us a gravitas, opens the season up and gives us European football to look forward to towards Christmas, so it's an important couple of games."

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