Lennon Lauds Kayal Return

  • Last Updated: May 14 2012, 18:08 BST

Gary Hooper captured the headlines on Sunday by scoring all five goals in Celtic's 5-0 thrashing of Hearts, but manager Neil Lennon was just as pleased to see Beram Kayal return to action.

Beram Kayal: Back after injury lay-off

The Israel midfielder, 24, was given a huge cheer by the home fans when he replaced skipper Scott Brown in the second half to make his first appearance since recovering from an ankle injury picked up during the Old Firm win over Rangers at Parkhead in December.

Kayal's cameo in the last game of the season was another fillip for Lennon who, after lifting the Clydesdale Bank Premier League trophy for the first time as a boss, quickly turned his attention to the Champions League qualifiers which start near the end of July.

"He was a little bit rusty obviously, but I wanted to the players who have made big contributions the opportunity to play," said the Celtic boss.

"Beram has been a huge player for us and barring injury I'm sure he would have played a lot more for us this season.

"I was delighted with the performance and the professionalism and quality of all the players out there and it all bodes well for the future."

The Celtic supporters enjoyed watching their side confirm their status as champions albeit the much-changed visitors offered little resistance.

Lennon believes the adulation of the Hoops fans, the team's style of play and the possibility of playing in the Champions League are all important factors when it comes to recruiting an retaining players.

The former Celtic skipper said: "The realisation of winning the championship and the feeling they get from days like yesterday and at Kilmarnock (when Celtic clinched the title), the feeling and the connection with the supporters, you'd be hard pressed to find that anywhere else, certainly in Britain anyway.

"We've created new heroes here over the last three years and they've become very popular with the fans.

"I dont think they'd get that sort of mutual feeling with many other clubs.

"I think they enjoy the environment they're playing in, I think they enjoy the style of football that we try to play and I'm very very proud of them."