NEIL LENNON says that he had no choice but to play without a striker in Celtic’s Champions League defeat to Ferencvaros, and insisted his decision to do so again in the win over Motherwell wasn’t the result of an ‘ego trip’.

Lennon again deployed Ryan Christie up front with Odsonne Edouard out injured, leaving Albian Ajeti and Patryk Klimala on the bench for the visit of the Steelmen to Celtic Park.

Both forwards came on in the second half of the 3-0 win, with Ajeti making his mark with a well-taken finish for Celtic’s second goal. But Lennon was adamant that neither man was ready to make an impact in the match against the Hungarian champions in midweek.

“Listen, I make decisions and you live and die off them for what you think is for the benefit of the club,” Lennon said. “It’s not some sort of ego trip. I have always put the players first and the club first.

“I expected criticism after the game and the volume of criticism is sometimes out of sync and balance. But you learn to live with that, and we had a good response today from the players.

“No one is more sore about going out of the Champions League than myself. It’s on my CV now that result, but I have to park that and move forward.

“Like I said ad nauseum, you can see that they are not fully fit. Patryk did 45 and did well, but was really blowing towards the end.

“Albian needs conditioning work, but you can see what a good player he is even with the moments that he was on the pitch.

“So, the two weeks [international break] comes at a good time and for us, there are a lot of players away on international duty as well and hopefully they will come back fit and well.”

Lennon admitted frustration that he cannot currently start games with his preferred formation, with two strikers in attack.

“At the minute, yes [I’m frustrated],” he said.

“But hopefully as we go on we will get that put in place and get the players fitter, sharper and more up to speed.

“I’m not saying that we will go with one striker, it’s not my preference at times. You’ve just got to go with your gut instinct to go with the same team.

“I thought that, in isolation, we dominated Ferencvaros and should have won – we didn’t. And then it’s all down to the fact we didn’t play a centre forward, but none of them are fit enough to start and you can see that today.”