Scottish Cup: Hibernian and Celtic both under pressure - Lennon

 

Scottish Cup final

  • Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow
  • Date: Sunday, 26 May
  • Kick-off: 15:00 BST

Coverage: Watch on BBC One Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes the pressure is equally split between both sides in Sunday's Scottish Cup final against Hibernian at Hampden Park.

Hibs have not won the trophy in 111 years and were thrashed by Edinburgh rivals Hearts in last season's final.

Championship winners Celtic are aiming for a 36th success in the tournament.

"I suppose we will be heavy favourites going into the game but it is all on the day as we have seen in the past," said Lennon.

"The pressure is on both teams, it is a cup final and there is a trophy to play for."

Hibs have lost in 10 finals since they last lifted the cup in 1902, including the 5-1 drubbing for Hearts last season.

The team is much changed from that painful day but the focus remains on the Easter Road club's long wait for a third triumph in the competition.

"The only way to stop people from asking the question is to win it," said manager Pat Fenlon. "It's as simple as that.

"It's the only way to put it to bed and we've got to try to do that.

Celtic winger James Forrest

Forrest is a fitness concern for Celtic

"We can't do anything about what has gone before but we've got a great chance and that's something for myself and the players to embrace and enjoy."

Celtic wrapped up the Scottish Premier League with ease, 16 points clear at the top of the table, and completed the league season with back-to-back 4-0 wins against St Johnstone and Dundee United.

"We have had a terrific season and it would be a nice way to finish it off," added Lennon, who won four Scottish Cups as a player with Celtic and picked up world football's oldest trophy as manager in 2011.

"There will be a full house and a tremendous atmosphere."

Lennon is free to take his place in the dugout having been given an suspended penalty for breaching his previous touchline ban.

"It is very important and I am just looking forward to it now," he said. "I played in plenty of cup finals so to take the team out for another one is pretty special," he added.

"I missed a cup final a couple of years ago [League Cup 2011] and it feels there is a part of you missing. You are not able to do your job properly, you can't affect the players as much as you want to."

Charlie Mulgrew and James Forrest face late fitness tests but midfielders Victor Wanyama and Beram Kayal are suspended for Celtic, while full-back Adam Matthews remains sidelined through injury.

A back problem deprives Hibs of their captain James McPake, with teenager Jordon Forster set to deputise at the national stadium.

"Losing your captain is a big blow but we've got players there," said Fenlon, who won six major trophies as a manager in his native Ireland.

"Young Jordon has come in and been fantastic for us in the games he has played so we will just have to get on with it."

Forster enjoys a 100% winning record in a Hibs shirt so far, with the Edinburgh greens ending the season with three consecutive victories to clinch seventh place in the SPL.

"Once we got our place in the final, it was important, in the five games we had left in the league, that we got momentum," added Fenlon.

Hibernian striker Leigh Griffiths

Griffiths has scored 28 goals for Hibs this season

"Fortunately we have drawn two of them and won three and the players go into this game with big confidence."

However, Hibs have met Celtic 20 times, including replays, in the Scottish Cups since beating them in that 1902 final and have managed just one victory - a 4-3 thriller at Easter Road in March 1986.

If Fenlon's men are to upset the odds, top-score Leigh Griffiths may have a major role to play.

The Edinburgh club took to Twitter to dispel rumours that the striker who has scored 28 goals this season, was doubtful with a calf injury.

"He has been really impressive," said Lennon. "He is a hungry boy who always wants to get into goal-scoring positions.

"He plays on the shoulder of people so you can't give him half a yard because he is a bit like Kris Commons, he has power in both feet and at set-pieces he is a real specialist as he has proved this season.

"Missing chances doesn't faze him either, he keeps going. He is a real threat."

But Fenlon insists all of his players will have to be on top form at Hampden to have a chance.

"To beat Celtic, we've got to have most of our players on their game," he said. "It's really important.

"Leigh doesn't score goals on his own, they don't just happen.

"We've got to have everybody involved and contributing to the goals, whether it's attacking wise or defensive wise."