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Lennon and Celtic aiming to throw Rennes off their rhythm 

The Celtic boss says he is preparing to face a dangerous side in the Europa League opener.

Neil Lennon has said that his Celtic players will encounter an unusual style from Rennes in their Europa League clash but said they are planning to unsettle their French opponents.

The Celtic squad flew out for their opening Group E match on Wednesday and are aiming to get off to a good start before tests to come against CFR Cluj and Lazio. 

Rennes established a reputation last season after making a run to the last 16 of the competition and caught the eye with a win over Arsenal. This season they sit second in the league and have already defeated PSG and Lennon said he was well aware of the danger they posed.

"We want to play strongly, "he said. "We want to nullify the threat of Rennes and try to stop them playing the rhythm of football that they do.

"They're very good.

"It's a little bit of a different system from what we're used to playing against and they use the rhythm and the system very, very well."

Odsonne Edouard is expected to start and continue his strong start to the season but Lennon revealed he won't be able to call on Leigh Griffiths.

"Chris Jullien is fine for the game," he said. "Leigh Griffiths didn't travel after picking up a thigh knock, but should be okay for the weekend.

"It will be a good crowd and atmosphere but we're looking forward to it."

Lennon also added his voice to the tributes being paid to former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen, who died on Wednesday after a long battle with motor neuron disease.

He said: "It's tragic.

"I am very, very upset for his family obviously, for someone who I played against in many battles in a time when both teams were very, very strong in Glasgow, in a very good era in Scottish football.

"And for the Glasgow public to lose him at such a young age is devastating. He put up an unbelievable fight.

"As a player he got better and better in his time at Rangers, to the point he became player of the year. He turned out to be an outstanding footballer, a great competitor.

"He was emotional to start with in his career but he really matured into a very fine player.

"Our condolences go to his family and Glasgow Rangers as well. It's a huge loss and I have felt it myself, for someone who I played against for a long, long time."

Rennes ready for tough test

Rennes head coach Julien Stephan believes Celtic will be difficult opponents and highlighted a trio of Scottish players as example of their quality.

"They are used to winning national titles, every year almost, they have won eight titles in a row," he said. "They are a team who are usually in the Champions League and they have huge experience with many internationals.

"We know they can play in the air and they are very technical. They are a very, very good team and have technical players like (Callum) McGregor, (Ryan) Christie, (James) Forrest, just to mention a few.

"They are well balanced and we know how difficult it will be but we are lucky to play at home and the supporters are going to play a big role in a potential win for us.

"I do believe Celtic are one of the favourites. As far as experience they should be able to perform well, maybe just behind Lazio."

Stephan has had to rebuild his side after a number of summer exits but has Rennes sitting second in the table.

"It's a new team, a new season, there is a new story to be told and we need to construct a story with a new team," he said. "We can't compare this year with last year, last year is history.

"We are in the process of rebuilding and the group is evolving. We have had a very good start in the league and we need to take it into Europe."

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