Alan Hutton has insisted Neil Lennon’s comments about the fitness of the Celtic squad should be hugely concerning for everyone at Parkhead.
The former Rangers and Scotland defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, admitted he was “baffled” with how the likes of Leigh Griffiths, Tom Rogic and Albian Ajeti had failed to get up to speed despite being months into the new season.
Speaking to PLZ Soccer after Sunday’s 1-1 draw with St Johnstone, Lennon revealed he felt some of the Bhoys’ squad were not fit enough and that had been the case for a “long time”.
💬 'It's a two-way thing – the players need to play better.'
Neil Lennon says his players need 'support' after St. Johnstone draw made it two wins from their last twelve 👇
— PLZ Soccer (@PLZSoccer) December 6, 2020
The Bhoys now sit 13 points behind league leaders Rangers and will see their Europa League campaign come to an end after Thursday’s home tie against Lille.
Lennon blasted Leigh Griffiths for returning to training out of shape in the summer but despite returning to the squad, the Scotland international is still only being used sparingly at Parkhead.
Hutton admitted he could not fathom how certain players were still not up to speed at Parkhead and insisted it just put added pressure on some of their mainstays.
Asked if he thought Lennon’s comments were hugely concerning for Celtic, Hutton told Football Insider: “Well it is for me, at the end of the day he’s the manager, he’s got the backroom staff, he’s got the fitness coaches.
“I mean, how can Leigh Griffiths have not been fit in the summer and he’s still not fit now? That baffles me, I know me, as an ex-player, you go in and train hard whether you’re playing or you’re not playing.
“You play bounce games behind closed doors. There’s other boys he’s come out and said, obviously Ajeti spent a lot of time on the bench, does he look up to full speed? Rogic has come back in, can you last the 90 minutes?
“There’s all these questions and what happens is it puts more pressure on the likes of McGregor, Brown – these boys that play week in, week out – to do a lot of the running.
“There’s gonna come a time where they’re gonna have to say: ‘Well, that’s me, I’m done, I’m tired. I need a rest.’ You can’t just put all your hopes on these mainstay players. There’s Lennon saying they’re not fit enough, which I can’t believe.”
Lennon told PLZ Soccer: “We need a bit of swagger back in the team that’s missing at the minute.
“Some players aren’t fit enough and that’s been the case for a long time. Some players are just not in good form and they need some respite at some stage and some support from me but again, it’s a two-way thing, the players have got to play better.”
In other Celtic news, Paul Robinson tips club chiefs to bin 28-yr-old in January after £2.5m pay-out is revealed.