Lennon shrugs off defensive injury crisis
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Neil Lennon says he won't lose any sleep about Celtic's defensive injury crisis as they prepare to face Rangers in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup on Sunday.

Celtic have conceded just 14 goals, the meanest defence in the country, and have not let in a goal in eight of their last nine league matches to help Lennon look with confidence at this weekend's clash with their bitter rivals. His confidence had been further boosted by their seeing off Aberdeen 3-0 on Tuesday to extend their lead in the Premier League to eight points, though, Rangers have three games in hand.

"Based on the way they played against Aberdeen then, yes, I would be confident," the former Celtic star midfielder said. "Charlie (Mulgrew) and Mark (Wilson) are both experienced and Charlie has been exceptional in the last six weeks and he's really grown into being part of the team. He feels like he deserves to be here now and it probably took him a little while to settle in after coming back (for a second spell).

"He's been really consistent and Mark's been a consistent player for a long, long time. He's very underrated and I'm glad he's been called up to the Scotland squad as well as he deserves it. If we go in with those two on Sunday then so be it. The way they played against Aberdeen it won't be a major sleeping issue for me.

Form means nothing going into Old Firm games. But consistently we have been very good for the last six or seven weeks and it just shows what a bit of confidence can do.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon

"But we will have a couple of boys coming back. Form means nothing going into Old Firm games. But consistently we have been very good for the last six or seven weeks and it just shows what a bit of confidence can do."

In an incident-packed match at Pittodrie Andrew Considine was sent off after 57 seconds when he brought down Scott Brown in the box. Jamie Langfield saved the resultant penalty from Anthony Stokes but the Irishman soon set up Gary Hooper to slot home the opener in the 12th minute.

Despite creating a number of opportunities it took until the 75th minute for Celtic to increase their lead when Wilson bulleted a header past Langfield. Stokes then atoned for his penalty miss when he fired home two minutes later to send Celtic eight points ahead of Rangers, who can reduce it to five should they beat third-placed Hearts on Wednesday.

Wilson's goal was his first for Celtic and the first time he had netted since playing for Dundee United in 2005. His manager said he had been delighted with the utility man's performances in recent weeks, which have earned him a call-up to Craig Levein's Scotland squad to face Northern Ireland next week.

"We were looking forward to seeing his celebration but he deserves it," Lennon said. "He has been very consistent and the only thing with Mark is he has had horrendous injury problems over the years but you can see what a good player and what a good team player he is for us and he's vital to the squad."