Neil Lennon has hit back at Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes after his dig at Kristoffer Ajer and insisted the Celtic defender could have been seriously hurt by Sam Cosgrove.

McInnes claimed that Ajer winked at Cosgrove when the Pittodrie striker was red carded by referee Euan Anderson at Parkhead on Saturday.

But Lennon believes the Norway centre half could have been badly injured by the challenge and has told his opposite number to focus on his own players.

READ MORE: Joe Lewis defends Aberdeen teammate Sam Cosgrove, saying defenders 'entice' refs into producing red cards

“I’m not convinced about that at all,” he said. “Kris isn’t like that. At the end of the day, he’s on the receiving end of a very heavy tackle.

“Whether he’s winking or not is irrelevant and I have no evidence he did do that. Derek should be concentrating on his own player and I’ll concentrate on mine.”

Lennon added: “He (Cosgrove) got plenty of the ball, but he’s off the ground and he’s caught Kris on the follow through. So I can see now why the referee did give it.

“He could (have been hurt). He may have seen the challenge coming and sort of skipped out of it, but he has left the ground. It’s definitely excessive force.”

READ MORE: Derek McInnes: Sam Cosgrove dismissal was 'never a red card and Neil agrees with me’

“I thought at the time it was full-blooded. I think there was intent there because he didn’t need to make the challenge. I think he was trying to put a marker down for some reason. I don’t know why.

"I don’t know if there was frustration there with Kris making a great tackle on (Jon) Gallagher. There is no real need to make a challenge like that. He could have just shied Kris into the corner.

“So I can see now why the referee did give it. Ten years ago, you’d have been delighted with a challenge like that, but you’d have to ask him the reason why he’s making a challenge like that there because it was totally unnecessary.

"He could have put a block on it, he’s on his left foot, he’s not going anywhere. At the end of the day, what do you want to get out of it? Tackling like that?

"I understand him making a challenge, but it’s just the way he made it and it wasn’t that type of game, either. It was feisty, but it wasn’t over physical. It was totally out of context for the game."