Lennon hoping for calm in Belfast
Trouble in the city a concern ahead of Celtic’s Champions League qualifier against Cliftonville
Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon is hoping Celtic’s Champions League qualifier against Cliftonville in north Belfast tomorrow night goes off without a hitch.
There has been four consecutive nights of public disorder in the city and in other parts of Northern Ireland ahead of the Hoops’ visit to Solitude.
The trouble emanated from a ruling by the Parades Commission, banning an Orange Order parade from marching along a stretch of road that separates loyalist and nationalist communities in north Belfast on July 12th.
Asked about the situation at the pre-match press conference, the Parkhead club’s Lurgan-born manager said: “Preparations have gone really well so far.
“It hasn’t had an impact on us and I am hoping the night will be remembered for all the right reasons.
“There might be things (extra security) going on in the background that the police are working hard at but as far as we are aware this has just been a normal Champions League trip.
“We have been really well looked after.”
Efe Ambrose is set to play at Solitude tomorrow night.
The Nigeria defender was given extra time off following the Confederations Cup.
However, with Adam Matthews, Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Ledley and Virgil van Dijk injured and Steven Mouyokolo signed but not available until next week, manager Neil Lennon will call upon the services of Ambrose earlier than expected.
Meanwhile, Cliftonville officials have urged Celtic fans not to wear the club’s green and white Hoops in Belfast’s city centre.
Thousands of Hoops fans are expected in the city for the game but Cliftonville director David Begley has issued the visitor’s supporters with a safety warning.
He said: “Belfast city centre is a very welcoming place but people are very sensitive about colours, not just this week.
“As a result, its probably best to avoid wearing colours into the city centre tomorrow. I would say to all fans to make your way up to Cliftonville Road from the city centre.
“There are lots of friendly pubs here and indeed our own bar, the Cliftonville Social Club. By doing that you can avoid difficulties. It can be tricky as 100 yards in the wrong direction and you could be in the wrong place.”