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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: LENNON GETS CELTIC FRINGE STARS UPDATE, McINNES’ DONS RALLYING CALL, HAMILTON MAY QUIT HAMILTON

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NEIL LENNON took time off from preparing for Thursday’s crucial Europa League last-32 second leg against FC Copenhagen at Parkhead to watch some of his fringe players in action yesterday.

The Celtic boss took in the Reserve League Cup semi-final against Hibs and saw £3.5million Polish striker Patryk Klimala score in the 4-1 triumph that set up a Final clash with Aberdeen.

Karamo Dembele, who celebrated his 17th birthday on Saturday, claimed a double while Republic of Ireland youth international midfielder Luca Connell got the ball rolling with a strike in the 18th minute.

Lennon also watched £2million Ivorian midfielder Ismaila Soro play for 76 minutes before coming off for Barry Coffey.

Israeli international right-back Hatem Abd Elhamed made his first competitive appearance since limping off with a groin injury in the Europa League 2-1 win over Lazio in Rome in November. The 28-year-old defender eased his way through 62 minutes before being replaced by Brody Paterson.

Lennon can now focus in the match against FC Copenhagen where they have the the advantage of a 1-1 first leg draw with Odsonne Edouard on target in the Danish capital in last week’s 1-1 draw in the Danish capital.

DETERMINED Derek McInnes has told his Aberdeen players they cannot allow the home loss to Ross County to knock them off course.

The Dons, who had teenager Dean Campbell red-carded in the first-half at the weekend, are now a point adrift of Motherwell in fourth place in the Premiership as they focus on a Europa League qualifying spot.

McInnes also has his eyes on the Scottish Cup with a quarter-final encounter against St Mirren in Paisley due on Saturday.

Following five consecutive blanks after the tun of the year, the Pittodrie outfit broke the spell with Curtis Main’s opener in the 3-1 win over Hamilton Accies in the FOY Stadium and Ash Taylor volleyed one in against Celtic in the 2-1 defeat. But the team responded with a remarkable 4-3 triumph over Kilmarnock in a dramatic extra-time Scottish Cup triumph at Rugby Park a week ago.

McInnes reflected on the loss to the Dingwall team and told the Evening Express: “We knew ahead of the game the energy and physical part of it would be an issue.

“We tried to freshen it up in a few areas and always knew we’d bring subs on earlier. But it’s tough with 10 men to maintain those levels.

“We won’t let it derail our upturn in fortunes over the last few games.

“The levels have been good, last time at Pittodrie against Celtic and the big performance during the week. We need to manage our training this week, see who’s fit and available and be ready for St Mirren as it’s such an important game.

“Hopefully, Funso Ojo and Craig Bryson will be back. We’ll be fresher and more equipped to deal with the game.”

JAMIE HAMILTON could be on the move from Hamilton Accies with Brighton weighing up a move for the 17-year-old defender.

The Lanarkshire outfit announced on their website: “The club can confirm Jamie Hamilton has travelled to English Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion, where he will spend three days at their training centre.

“This isn’t something the club would normally agree to. However, given our close connection with previous manager Billy Reid, we’re happy for Brighton to see Jamie in their own environment.

“Jamie will return to Hamilton on Thursday in preparation for our visit to Ibrox on Wednesday, March 4.”

Hamilton was linked with Wolves and Burnley at the end of last season, but has made the breakthrough in this campaign with 10 Premiership appearances.
The youngster has been red-carded THREE times this term, including one against Celtic when he sent Leigh Griffiths crashing and Odsonne Edouard levelled with the free-kick before the champions went on to win 4-1.

Hamilton is under contract at Accies until June 2022.

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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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