Failing to qualify for the Europa League knock-out stages will be a “massive” blow for Celtic, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Aberdeen and Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, has questioned whether the Bhoys have got “too big for their boots” after a humbling 4-1 defeat to Sparta Prague on Thursday.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, as relayed by STV journalist Ronnie Charters, Lennon confessed that the Hoops’ chances of qualifying from the group are “probably” over after they picked up just one point from their opening three games.

The Bhoys suffered defeat against both Sparta Prague and AC Milan, while they let a 2-0 lead slip against Lille to draw 2-2 with the French outfit.

Whelan has insisted the financial impact of not qualifying will be a bitter pill to swallow but suggested Lennon will be more concerned about the lack of character among his side.

Asked how big a blow Lennon’s confession is for Celtic, Whelan told Football Insider: “Massive, huge – financially but more disappointing for Neil Lennon, that their team have not stood up and been counted for.

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“That is the most disappointing thing because you would have expected them to have got through that group. There’s something not right there.

“Like he said, the character’s changed, he’s got to change their mentality, have they got a little bit too big for their boots? They’re not working hard for each other. Something isn’t right there, right now, and Neil Lennon hasn’t got much time to get it fixed.

“That is a problem, that’s a real problem right now because they’ve got a difficult game again at the weekend, sort of game they didn’t want after a disappointing defeat – like when they went to Aberdeen – they’ve got another tricky one away at Motherwell.”

Celtic, who were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by Ferencvaros earlier this season, qualified top of their Europa League group last term but were beaten by Copenhagen at the round of 32 stage.

In other Celtic news, Whelan has slaughtered a ‘Shambolic’ Hoops star ‘Letting everybody down’.