Neil Lennon cannot use Christopher Jullien’s major injury blow as an excuse if Celtic fail to perform over the coming months.
That is the view of former Rangers and Scotland manager Alex McLeish who, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, has warned the Northern Irish boss critics will “run rings around him” if he suggests the Hoops’ bad form is due to the 27-year-old’s absence.
Lennon confirmed to Sky Sports last weekend that the French centre-back is set to miss up to four months of action after picking up a serious injury against Dundee United.
"It's a hammer blow for us."
Ahead of Celtic's clash with Rangers, Neil Lennon revealed that Christopher Jullien is set to miss '3 or 4 months' through injury. pic.twitter.com/iIgZsBxiDA
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) January 2, 2021
Jullien was stretchered off after he collided with the goalpost in the second half of the 3-0 win over the Tangerines.
Speaking after the Hoops’ 1-0 derby day defeat to Rangers, McLeish admitted he did not want to use the centre-back’s absence as an excuse and warned Lennon he should not either.
McLeish told Football Insider: “I was loathed to mention Jullien because of the fact that he’s now going to be out for a while.
“My philosophy was always: ‘Well, if you’re not going to have a certain player for a few months, you’ve got to stop talking about it, and we have to stop making excuses about it.’
“Regardless of losing games in the past, in my career and then you come on to see: ‘Well, we missed Jullien, we missed this one, we missed that one and it just wasn’t a level playing field.’ Then the critics will run rings round you and they will not give you any leeway.
“You’ve still got to win and Neil will be very conscious of that and he’s still trying to find that perfect formula in defence between Duffy, Bitton or whoever.”
Jullien has already missed a chunk of the season for Celtic after suffering with a back injury, with just 14 appearances under his belt.
Lennon chose to start midfielder Nir Bitton as a makeshift defender against Rangers, with Republic of Ireland centre-back left to come on as a second-half substitute.