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LENNON HAILS FRINGE BENEFITS

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NEIL LENNON admitted he was delighted his Celtic team enjoyed fringe benefits during their emphatic 5-0 Betfred League Cup quarter-final win over toiling Partick Thistle at Parkhead last night.

The Hoops boss made EIGHT changes from the line-up that overwhelmed Kilmarnock 3-1 in Glasgow at the weekend.

There wasn’t the merest hiccup as Jeremie Frimpong, the 18-year-old right-back signed from Manchester City, made his debut, Tom Rogic got a starting place, claimed a goal and lasted the 90 minutes while Vakoun Issouf Bayo led the line and claimed his first strike for the club since his £2million move in January.

Olivier Ntcham also got the nod to be in at the kick-off and the French midfielder rewarded the vote of confidence from the manager with two well-struck goals.

Scott Sinclair, who has struggled for game time this season, replaced Mohamed Elyounoussi in the 66th minute and netted the fifth 10 minutes later.

Lennon applauded the team as they eased through to meet Hibs in the semi-final in November after Paul Heckingbottom’s side beat Kilmarnock 5-4 on penalty-kicks following a goalless extra-time stalemate.

DUTCH TREAT…Jeremie Frimpong had an impressive debut for the League Cup holders.

The Celtic gaffer, speaking to STV, remarked: “I’m delighted. I just said to the players that I’m so happy with them. We were able to rest a few players and the players who came in excelled.

“On paper, these games look easy and we know that they are not. We just asked the players to find a little more in the second-half and they certainly did that.

“There were some exceptional individual performances and it’s an excellent win. The most important thing is that we are into the semi-final.

“It was out of necessity with the volume of games that we’ve been having and have got coming up, as well.

“While there’s a few bumps and bruises, the majority of the squad is very healthy and you could see what it meant to some of them to play on this occasion.

“For the likes of Tom Rogic it’s his first 90 minutes in some time and from the work behind the scenes you could see he got stronger and looked like he enjoyed himself. Olivier Ntcham had a great game and Jonny Hayes is looking more accomplished.”

Commenting on Sinclair, the boss added: “He’s still very much part of the squad. He’s not a sulker and we got a good reaction from Scott.

“His body language in training is improving all the time. He did what he does best, came on, scored a goal and looked fit and strong.”

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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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