DAVIE HAY has warned Neil Lennon that Livingston will be fired up for today’s High Noon confrontation and will be “no soften touches”.
The Celtic legend and present Club Ambassador managed both clubs and acknowledge Gary Holt’s side will make it tough for the right-in-a-row champions on their artificial surface at the Tony Macaroni stadium.
The Hoops go into the encounter on a high after their rousing 2-0 Europa League Group E triumph over Cluj in Glasgow on Thursday night.
But Hay, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “For all the positivity around Celtic at the moment, Neil Lennon will know more than anyone that the narrative can change in the blink of an eye. A crisis is always just around the corner when it comes to being in charge of either of Glasgow’s Big Two.
“That’s why he will be pressing home the message to his players that the game against Livingston is just as big as the match against Cluj, if not even bigger.
“The draw at Easter Road last week allowed Rangers to close the gap to a single point at the top of the Premiership table with their convincing win over Aberdeen, and Celtic won’t want to give their rivals any further encouragement by dropping points at another difficult venue.
“With all due respect to Livingston, it might not be just as easy to get motivated for a trip to the Toni Macaroni Arena to play a match on a plastic pitch as it was to get pumped up to play in front of a full house on a European night at Celtic Park.
“But Celtic have to get up for it, because Livi are no soft touches.”
Hay added: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lennon freshen things up a bit in terms of the starting 11, not just because he has to factor in fatigue with how soon this game has come on the heels of the Cluj match, but also because the players he has waiting to come in are all absolutely desperate to play.
“The hunger they have to prove they are worthy of a starting place in the team should ensure that they are right up for it, because they know if they don’t seize their chance then they may have to wait a good while for another one.
“I fancy Celtic to take the spoils.”
The Hoops lost their 100 per cent league record in the 1-1 stalemate against Hibs in Edinburgh in a game where they were convinced they should have had two clear-cut penalty-kicks from referee Kevin Clancy.
Ryan Christie and Moritz Bauer were both on the receiving end of challenges that had the away support screaming for spot-kicks and manager Lennon agreed with them.
The champions dropped three points on a scoreless deadlock on the same ground last season and know they face another testing 90 minutes.