Callum McGregor and James Forrest left out of Celtic qualifying tie as Neil Lennon looks to protect stars from burnout

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NEIL LENNON has left Callum McGregor and James Forrest at home for the second-leg of the Champions League qualifying tie against Nomme Kalju as he looks to protect two of his key assets from burnout.

Celtic travelled to Estonia yesterday with a 5-0 lead from last week’s first leg in Glasgow, a cushion that allows Lennon to mix up his line-up for tonight’s return fixture in Tallinn.

He has taken the opportunity to pull both McGregor and Forrest away from the front line, with the pair playing an astounding 69 games and 63 games respectively last season.

“We’re not going to change it up too much,” Lennon said. “We’ve left McGregor and Forrest at home. Those two have played a lot of football and it’s a good opportunity to give them a little bit of respite because the games are going to come thick and fast again

“(Callum)’s been away on international duty in the summer, so he hasn’t really had a much of a break, so even though it’s only a couple of days I think even that will be very good for him mentally and physically, as it will be for Jamesie as well.

“But I want to win the game, I think it would be good for keeping the momentum going so we’ll still put a very strong team out obviously.”

Meanwhile, Lennon has revealed that he hopes to have at least one new signing in the door before the weekend’s Premiership opener against St Johnstone.

“We will discuss that when we get back on Wednesday, it would be great if we could,” he said.

“And we will try and get one or two in before the next tie if we qualify, which we should do, for next week.”

One man who won’t be coming to the club is Newcastle United goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, with Lennon knocking down reports that Celtic were set to make a move for the 22-year-old, who previously spent a season on loan at Kilmarnock.

The right-back position continues to be a bugbear for Lennon though, with talks to bring in yet another target to replace Mikael Lustig close to collapse.

“[We’re] no further down the line with that one,” he said. “That has stalled, so we may have to look elsewhere.”

Christopher Jullien will make his competitive debut for Celtic this evening, but fellow new arrival Hatem Abd Elhamed will not be making his bow as he wasn’t registered in time for the tie. Some fringe men will however be given the chance to impress.

“We’ve got a game against Wolves on Wednesday, so the ones who have been left behind will play in that,” Lennon said.

“(Marian) Shved is here, (Eboue) Kouassi will play, so it will give them an opportunity to get some minutes in them and (Vakoun Issouf) Bayo isn’t far away.

“(Shved) has had a good pre-season. Unfortunately, just before Sarajevo he had an abductor strain. He is just coming back into it now. It’s good having another body there.”

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