NEIL LENNON has defended Christopher Jullien after his penalty blunder contributed to Celtic dropping points against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Jullien was given a difficult afternoon by the physicality of Killie striker Nicke Kabamba, who he pulled down for the spot-kick which allowed Chris Burke to cancel out Ryan Christie’s opener for the champions.

Lennon conceded that Jullien was off the pace, but gave the same assessment of the rest of his team as he backed his central defender to come good as the season goes on.

“I think he’s rusty,” Lennon said. “He’s a slow burner, he was the same this time last year. The more games he gets, the better he will become.

“He’s disappointed but that’s not the reason we dropped two points today. We weren’t good enough in the final third at times with all the play we had.

“I’m frustrated. We got off to a good start and then gave away a poor goal from our point of view.

“Then we dominated the second half but didn’t find the answer. We knew Kilmarnock would do very well here, defend with a low block and two banks of four.

“Our final ball wasn’t good today and that’s something we need to work on.”

Celtic were without Leigh Griffiths for the game with the striker carrying a calf strain, but Lennon denied that the player’s future at the club was under threat after reports that a party he hosted broke social distancing guidelines.

“No [his future is not under threat],” he said. “The club are conducting an investigation. I’m not convinced it’s a big issue, so hopefully it will be resolved in a couple of days.

“He’s not fit, he’s got a calf strain at the moment, so he would have missed the game anyway.”

Meanwhile, Lennon is hoping that Celtic get to play their Champions League qualifier at home after they were drawn against KR Reykjavik, with a neutral venue a possibility if the Icelandic champions aren’t granted special dispensation to fly into Scotland.

“Hopefully it will be at home and we are not sure yet if the game is going to be at a neutral venue or not,” he said.

“Hopefully it will be at Celtic Park and we’ll be delighted if it’s at home. That’s all we can ask for really. We’ll take it from there.”

Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer praised his striker Kabamba for his fine showing, saying the frontman exemplified everything his team are about.

“Nicke has been outstanding since he’s come to the club,” said Dyer. “He gives one hundred percent and the boys round him believe in him.

“They know what he can do, and he showed it again today against two good defenders. Let’s hope it continues.

“It was a great performance. Great team effort, everyone to a man played well.

“We deserved the point.”