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LENNON, FORREST IN McNEILL HOPE

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NEIL LENNON has called for Celtic to “retire” the No.5 shirt as a mark of respect to club legend Billy McNeill.

The interim manager believes it would be a fitting tribute to the former player and manager who passed away on Monday evening at the age of 79 following his gallant struggle against dementia.

The McNeill family have urged fans to “tell his stories and sing his songs” as the club prepare to pay tribute tomorrow before the Premiership encounter against Kilmarnock at Parkhead.

James Forrest scored a double when the Hoops hammered Steve Clarke’s Rugby Park outfit 5-1 in December and he is hoping to champions can turn on a similar performance to honour the onfield leader of the Lisbon Lions.

The Scotland international winger, a contender for Scotland’s Player of the Year with his consistent performance for club and country, is eager for McNeill to be given a fitting tribute.

Forrest, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Billy was obviously really important to the club and he meant so much to so many people, so hopefully we put on a good display on Saturday. That’s what everyone wants.

“Everyone knows what he did for the club and how big a legend he is.

“We have seen stuff from his family calling for the crowd to make a lot of noise and pay their respects that way and I think it will definitely be a good turn-out and good for the fans to do that.

“It will be a good atmosphere and I hope we can give the fans something to cheer about as well and help everyone through it.”

The Hoops, chasing their eighth successive title, are nine points ahead of second-placed Rangers with four fixtures remaining.

If Forrest and Co beat Killie they could be crowned champions again 24 hours later if Steven Gerrard’s side fail to take anything from Aberdeen at Ibrox.

He added: “Everyone is wanting to make sure it gets wrapped up as soon as possible.

“Kilmarnock have been really good this season and it is a credit to their players and management.

“Every time we play them it is a hard game and it will be no different on Saturday.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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