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Celtic manager Neil Lennon has Juventus in mind ahead of SPL Inverness clash

Updated: Sunday, 10 Feb 2013 19:12 | Comments

Neil Lennon: 'If the gap was three points, I would probably still do it and take the gamble'
Neil Lennon: 'If the gap was three points, I would probably still do it and take the gamble'

Neil Lennon will ring the changes against Inverness tomorrow as he gears up for the "biggest game" of his managerial career against Juventus.

The Celtic manager says he will hand game time to some of his fringe players as he bids to keep his core personnel fresh for the last-16 clash with the Italian giants on Tuesday. (Live on RTÉ 2fm).

But Lennon denied that his side's 15-point lead over Caley at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League makes his decision any easier.

"It is a balancing act but I will make changes," he said.

"I have got Juventus in mind. It is the biggest game we have had here since Gordon Strachan's time and the biggest game of some of the players' career, and certainly my managerial career.

"I don't want to take too many chances tomorrow. We have got a cushion but that is no guarantee you are going to win the league and it is not the reason I am making changes.

"If the gap was three points, I would probably still do it and take the gamble."

"It is the biggest game we have had here since Gordon Strachan's time" - Neil Lennon

Juventus are sitting three points clear of Napoli at the top of Serie A but Lennon does not believe they will be a more difficult prospect than Barcelona, who were famously defeated by the Hoops in the group stage at Parkhead in November.

"Juventus are a formidable team, a daunting prospect, but I think the players have been looking at this game for quite a while and I am looking for a big night from them," said Lennon.

"We have been overdosing on them the last few weeks in terms of DVD analysis.

"Juventus and Barcelona are two different sides, two different mentalities.

"I think Juventus are more pragmatic. Barcelona do a lot of things off the cuff because they are so good.

"Juventus are very rigid in their formation, three at the back, one sitting and two wing-backs getting forward. They are a little bit more defensive-minded than Barcelona and they will be very difficult to break down although they probably don't have the flair or quality in forward areas than Barcelona."

Lennon welcomes back goalkeeper Fraser Forster from a neck injury but still has doubts over several other players ahead of next Tuesday night.

Winger James Forrest, forward Georgios Samaras (both hamstring) and left-back Emilio Izaguirre (knee) are question marks, while defender Efe Ambrose is away on African Nations Cup duty with Nigeria.

"We have no fresh injury worries from the international games but James has had two scans this week, the first one was all clear so we are waiting on the results of the second one," said Lennon.

"We are hoping if we get the all-clear he will be in the squad for Tuesday night."

Samaras and Izaguirre will be missing against Inverness, and Lennon admits they will both be touch and go for Tuesday.

"We are going to leave it as late as possible with Georgios and Emilio," he said.

"It is 50-50 at the minute. Emilio has probably got a better chance than Samaras although they have worked very hard this week and we have been very aggressive with their rehabilitation."

Meanwhile, right-back Adam Matthews this morning picked up his Clydesdale Bank young player of the month award for January.

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