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Neil Lennon: 'Leigh Griffiths has been a breath of fresh air'

Neil Lennon: 'Leigh Griffiths has been a breath of fresh air'
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The 30-year-old Hoops striker was out of the picture earlier in the season due to fitness issues.

Neil Lennon believes Leigh Griffiths has brought a refreshing change to Celtic recently.

The 30-year-old Hoops striker was out of the picture earlier in the season due to fitness issues which brought criticism from his manager in the summer.

However, Griffiths has worked his way back into contention and after coming off the bench to score in the William Hill Scottish Cup final win over Hearts at Hampden Park last weekend, which went all the way to penalties, he has started twice in a row for the first time this season.

The Scotland international followed up his goal in the 2-0 home victory over Ross County on Wednesday with another in the 3-0 Boxing Day win at Hamilton.

Lennon was happy with three goals in a week for Griffiths and he told Celtic's YouTube channel: "I thought he played very well.

"It was a great goal and I thought he could have had a hat-trick. He will be disappointed.

"But yes, he has been a breath of fresh air in the last few weeks.

"So it is (about) keeping him fit and keeping him at it."

French striker Odsonne Edouard netted a penalty just after the break and midfielder David Turnbull added a third goal after Griffiths had scored with a drive from inside the box to keep Celtic 16 points behind Rangers at the top of the Premiership with three games in hand.

The champions play Dundee United on Wednesday before travelling to Ibrox on January 2.

Lennon said: "We have a bit of work to do, we know that.

"We look forward to the Dundee United game and look to win that and take things from there. But I am delighted with the form we are in.

"I thought the two centre-halves (Nir Bitton and Kristoffer Ajer) were  excellent, the two full-backs (Jeremie Frimpong and Greg Taylor) were great, the whole team functioned perfectly, the way we want them to."

Accies were without 10 players through either suspension, injury or Covid-19 issues but in dreadful conditions in Lanarkshire, they held the Hoops to a goalless first half before succumbing to their lively visitors.

Hamilton are one point clear of bottom side Ross County ahead of their trip to St Johnstone on Wednesday.

Boss Brian Rice was pleased with his makeshift side's performance against the Parkhead outfit and wants standards to remain high in Perth.

He told Hamilton TV: "I will expect more. I will demand more again.

"Hopefully we have one or two of the track and trace boys back (players who are self-isolating after being deemed a close contact of the team-mate who tested positive for Covid-19) but the injured boys won't be back.

"We will need to go to St Johnstone, hope to put in a performance and win the match.

"We gave it everything we had against Celtic. We were well-organised, disciplined and stuck to the game plan.

"I thought some of the performances were outstanding against a good Celtic team."

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Rangers celebrate Scott Arfield's goal against Standard Liege in the Europa League on December 3, 2020
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Olympic medal table header
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United StatesUnited States1010929
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia78419
Great BritainGreat Britain56415
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events

· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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