Lennon wary of artificial surface


HJK Helsinki (1) v Celtic (2):NEIL LENNON believes HJK Helsinki’s artificial pitch will give the Finnish team an edge over Celtic in tonight’s Champions League third qualifier – but will not use it as an excuse should his side come unstuck.

The Scottish champions are leading 2-1 from last Wednesday night’s first-leg in Glasgow but the 3G surface at the Sonera Stadium has become the focus of attention ahead of the return game.

The Parkhead boss, who will give skipper Scott Brown and winger James Forrest every chance of declaring themselves fit, admitted the pitch could have a bearing on his team’s chances of getting through to the play-offs.

“I think it is an advantage to any team used to playing on it,” said Lennon. “We very rarely use artificial surfaces, if at all.”

Brown’s hip injury kept him out of the 1-0 Premier League win over Aberdeen at weekend. Forrest also missed the league’s curtain raiser and is battling to recover from a groin injury.

Forward Georgios Samaras has shrugged off the effects of a face injury sustained against the Dons while defender Charlie Mulgrew returns from suspension.

Lennon is confident that Brown will make it but will have a look at his captain and Forrest before kick-off. “Georgios will be fine,” said the former Celtic skipper.

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