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John Kennedy: 'Celtic season has been priceless for development'

John Kennedy: 'Celtic season has been priceless for development'
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The former defender has been in interim charge of the Parkhead club since Neil Lennon resigned in February.

John Kennedy admits this season has been the toughest of his time at Celtic.

The Hoops interim boss developed through the Parkhead club's youth academy as a highly-rated defender and was on the books for a decade before retiring at 26 on medical advice.

Since then has been a scout, youth-team coach, first-team coach and assistant manager at Celtic.

The former defender has been in interim charge of the Parkhead club since Neil Lennon resigned in February with Old Firm rivals Rangers well on their way to stopping Celtic winning a 10th successive Premiership title and the Hoops ending the season trophyless after previously winning the quadruple domestic treble.

Ahead of Celtic's final league game of the season against Scottish Cup finalists Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday, Kennedy reflected on a tumultuous campaign.

He said: "For me personally, it has been priceless in terms of development.

"It has been a difficult season for all. I have been here a long time, I have been through the successful times and I know how good it can be.

"This season has been the toughest of all in all my time, both as a player or on the coaching staff, it has been the toughest of all in terms of what we have had to deal with, the pressure of the season, the way it went and then trying to fight back from that has been very difficult.

"That has been tough and obviously Neil, who I worked very closely with, lost his position.

"There have been a number of hits to take and then you are asked for the final few months of the season (to) take the job.

"It was always been my ambition to manage at some point, I have never been in a rush to do it.

"Obviously the circumstances weren't perfect but again it was an opportunity and experience that not a lot of people can get.

"For me personally, the development side of things and having to deal with a lot of things that go on in tough times, it is really good for me going forward.

"So probably later in my life I will look back and say that was a priceless experience I had."

Former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is still front-runner for the vacant post but Kennedy has not been told that is the case.

He said: "No, I haven't, apart from hearing it from you guys.

"It is a lot of speculation. No one has spoken to me in terms of what the plans are for next season with the new management set-up.

"So I don't know who they are talking to or who the options are, the club are working through and will confirm that when the time is right."

Kennedy will mix and match his squad and expects Hibs manager Jack Ross, with the Scottish Cup final next week at Hampden looming, to do much the same.

He said: "We will have a few of the younger players around the squad. There will be a couple of changes.

"I think Jack has said he will look to make a few changes which makes sense.

"If we were in that position, we would certainly be looking to not take risks with guys who have played a lot of games and the more important players.

"I would expect them to make some changes but they have a very good squad.

"Jack has done a terrific job with Hibs, consolidating third place in the league and getting to a cup (final) which is a great achievement."

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Sunday's key events


SURFING
· Wave conditions permitting, surfing will make its Olympic debut (11pm-8.20am)

SKATEBOARDING
· Another debutant sport at this Olympics, most eyes will be on American Nyjah Huston in the men's street contest as he looks to add Olympic gold to his four world titles and 12 X-Games golds. (12.30am-5am)

TAEKWONDO
· History beckons for Jade Jones as she looks to become a three-time Olympic champion - something never done before in the sport prior to these Games (2am-1.45pm)
· Team GB's Bradly Sinden - world champion two years ago - is also going for gold in the men's -68kg category (2am-1.45pm)

GYMNASTICS
· Already-legendary gymnast Simone Biles makes her first appearance of the Games in the women's qualifying event (2am-2pm)

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· The first swimming medals of the Games will be dished out, with home favourite Daiya Seto going for gold in the men's 400m individual medley (2.30am-4.20am)

CYCLING
· Lizzie Deignan is among the Team GB team looking for success in the women's road race (5am-9.30am)

TENNIS
· Reigning two-time Olympic champion Andy Murray starts his title defence against Canadian hotshot Felix Auger-Aliassime (7am approx.)

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