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'I'll block it out': Neil Lennon plays down talk of 10 titles in a row for Celtic

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Neil Lennon has warned Celtic must not become consumed by the prospect of making history as they attempt to become the first club in Scottish football to secure 10 league titles in succession.

Celtic’s Premiership campaign begins on Sunday at home to Hamilton. Even before a ball is kicked, fevered speculation surrounds whether Celtic can hit the magic number.

“There has been 10-in-a-row chat for the last three or four years,” Lennon said. “When we won seven, people were talking about it. It’s no different. I’ll just do what I normally try to do and block it out, concentrate on the job in hand.

“It’s not just about this season. It’s about the seasons after that in terms of developing young players, integrating players into the squad and bringing in new players to add to the core we have already. This season we are trying again to achieve Champions League group stage football, which is going to be immensely difficult but not beyond us. Then, obviously, defending all the domestic trophies as robustly as we can.

“Everything doesn’t just stop at the end of this season if we achieve it. The club will go on and there are players we want to bring through. The main focus is the league, as it is every season. The priority is to win the title but it doesn’t just stop with this season.”

Lennon’s opposite number at Rangers, Steven Gerrard, is well aware of the wider significance of this season. Realistically, Rangers will be Celtic’s only title challengers but Gerrard has not won a trophy in two seasons in charge. Rangers will get their season under way in Aberdeen at lunchtime on Saturday.

“We know and respect there’s going to be a lot of noise on the outside,” Gerrard said. “On the inside it is my job to keep them focused on the next challenge and not really add unnecessary pressure to the players.

“At Rangers you don’t have the chance to pick and choose what you want to prioritise and what you want to put all your efforts into. Everyone knows for this club to stay in a healthy position we have to qualify for Europe and commit in Europe from a financial point of view. We have to go for everything that’s available.

“Of course, if I could pick one it would be the league … because the league’s so important. As a Rangers manager you’ve got to try to win everything.”

Gerrard reiterated a desire to add to his squad. “I think these players need some help in the door to try to help improve the 11 and the squad to make us more consistent,” he said.

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