IF Neil Lennon doesn’t quite feel as if he has passed the arduous test set to him over these past few months just yet, he is at least still standing. And according to the Celtic manager, so too are his side’s chances of lifting the Premiership title.

After their mini-resurgence of late, in fact, Lennon believes that anyone writing off his men would be foolish, despite the 16-point gap to Rangers at the top of the table. A gap that is somewhat artificially inflated after all by the three games in hand his side have tucked away.

That being said, he knows that Celtic’s recent revival will count for nothing if they can’t maintain the pressure on Rangers going into the New Year Old Firm fixture at Ibrox with another three points against Dundee United tonight.

A home win certainly looks the likely outcome, something that couldn’t confidently be predicted not so long ago. But even in those dark moments of mid-October through early December, Lennon was able to keep a sense of perspective as the protests flared and the fences flew outside Celtic Park.

“It’s part of the job,” Lennon said.

“It is never always plain sailing and every manager since the game started goes through a difficult period.

“I’ve had worse periods in my career. I played in League Two, I played in League One, I managed in the Championship.

“This is a high pressure job, but that comes with the responsibility of the role.

“I am very happy with the way things are going at the minute. I’m not happy with the league position and where we find ourselves. But our motivation is to rectify that as quickly as possible.

“I have learned a lot in my second spell here as manager in terms of experience and how to deal with players.

“Like I said all along, even going the difficult times recently I was enjoying it.

“It was a test. I’m not saying I’ve come through it with flying colours or anything like that, but we have turned a little bit of a corner. That can change again in one 90 minutes. So we are not getting carried away. We know we have a mountain of work ahead of us still to do.

“But anyone writing us off now would be foolish.

“I can’t put my finger on why, but they look a lot happier and a lot more at ease with themselves. Obviously, it makes us a lot better too.

“I’ve had numerous one on ones with players. It’s part of the job, especially when you’re going through a difficult period.

“You give them support, show a duty of care as their manager and obviously just to try and get them back the levels we know they’re capable of.”

Lennon may or may not have specifically been referencing Odsonne Edouard with those comments, but there is no one they apply more to than the French forward after he finally burst back to his sensational best to tear Hamilton apart at the weekend.

It may be the realisation that he will be at Celtic for the rest of the season that has settled the forward down, but Lennon feels that the return of his mojo also has a lot to do with the return of Leigh Griffiths as his strike partner.

“Odsonne was outstanding [against Hamilton], it’s the best I’ve seen him for quite a while,” he said.

“He does have a good relationship with Griff. Even the first couple of minutes, the little step-over and then the run in behind. Griff almost scored. We’ve missed that sort of combination play with strikers. So, that set the pulse for a really good performance.

“Griff’s a very good footballer, very intelligent striker and he was really on song again at the weekend.

“So, you’re just hoping they bring the best out of each other.”

Lennon has meanwhile addressed his intentions in the January transfer window, or lack of, as it turns out.

The Celtic boss doesn’t expect a great deal of traffic in either direction, believing his squad to be in its healthiest state in quite some time. Though he hasn’t ruled out one or two ‘project’ signings, given the new rules around the signing uncapped foreign players which are in the pipeline post-Brexit.

“Yes, that’s an area we may look at,” he said. “But it would have to be right for us.

“The player would have to be good enough to be here and there would have to be value in him down the line.

“But it’s difficult at the minute because you can’t actually go and see players live. That’s been a real difficult thing for myself and my recruitment team for nearly a year.

“So you are doing a lot of analysis on video work and it’s not ideal. But that is an area that we’re obviously concentrating on as well.

“With the squad being as healthy as it is I’m not sure we need to do any business at all at the minute. We are always looking at a player if one that we like comes up at the right sort of money.

“But I think January is going to be a very difficult period for a lot of clubs in terms of trying to bring players in.”