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Celtic boss defends lack of Scottish signings

Neil Lennon denies there has been a dilution of the Scottish identity compared to Jock Stein's all-conquering time at Celtic. There will be a minute's applause at Celtic Park ahead of Saturday's Scottish Premier League game against Hearts to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of the club's legendary former boss, who died at Ninian Park in Cardiff, just after his Scotland side had drawn against Wales to qualify for the play-offs for the 1986 World Cup final.

Among myriad triumphs at Parkhead, Stein most famously won the European Cup in 1967 with a team of players born within a 30-mile radius of Glasgow.

Lennon only has a handful of Scots in his squad and only one of the 11 players he signed during the summer, Charlie Mulgrew, is Scottish.

He said: "I'm happy with the Scottish boys I've got. Shaun Maloney is playing very well, Scott Brown is playing very well as is young James Forrest.

"They are talented players, allied to Mark Wilson who is a good professional and a consistent performer and Charlie Mulgrew can be a consistent performer.

"So I'm happy with the boys in the first team squad.

"But the game has gone global.

"There has been a big shift in the game even since I started playing in 1987.

"The doors opened in the mid-90s and you have to be aware of the financial ramifications and players, for whatever reasons, are cheaper when we look abroad in other markets.

"But we still have a strong Scottish theme running through the club and we aim to maintain that.

"We aim to maintain that through the academy and we aim to maintain that through the first team.

"We were linked with a few Scottish internationals in the transfer window and who is to say that come January we won't be looking at more Scottish players coming in."

Lennon accepts that Stein will forever be the benchmark for Celtic managers.

The former Hoops' skipper said: "He is the greatest manager in the club's history and one of the greatest managers in football history.

"He's an iconic fixture at the club and he is one that we all aspire to get even close to.

"If you look back at his record in the 1960s and 70s, it is nothing short of remarkable.

"It is right that the club should remember him."

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