Neil Lennon insists improvement at Celtic should not be ignored as they head into the first Old Firm derby of the season.

Lennon takes his team to Ibrox on Sunday lunchtime to face a Rangers team who have, like their oldest foes, won their first three Premiership matches. Celtic top the table thanks to a superior goal difference. Such starts have fuelled theories – and hopes in some quarters – of the Glasgow duo being involved in a meaningful title race.

Celtic’s manager, responding to the question of whether Rangers are a better side than last season, said: “So are we. Their results speak for themselves. They are playing with confidence and are unbeaten so far, so you’d have to say they have improved as I would have expected over the piece.

“But I think we have. I think we’ve scored nine in the past three. People take that for granted. It can get overlooked. We were struggling to score goals this time last year, I think we are up to 39 already. So I think we’ve improved as well.”

Lennon shrugged off the significance of the Ibrox match. “You can put down a marker but it’s early,” he said. “I’ve seen us win the first one and get beaten in the second and vice versa.

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“I don’t think it will have any bearing other than perhaps psychologically for a short period. Then we’ll see how the intervening games go. Somebody asked me last week if it was a defining moment. You can ask me that maybe in February or March.”

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Lennon reiterated hopes the Old Firm clubs will return to having thousands of away supporters. In a continuation from last season, visiting allocations have been slashed to several hundred.



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