Neil Lennon has stepped up his criticism of the Celtic squad after the defeat to Ross County in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Saturday, with the interim manager saying he is unperturbed about upsetting the players with his words.

Lennon will now urge the board to overhaul the team this summer, whether or not he is handed the manager's job permanently. His predecessor, Tony Mowbray, caused unrest by publicly criticising the squad but the Northern Irishman has no qualms about doing likewise.

"I honestly don't care," he said. "If there is resentment, if they feel I was too harsh, then they can knock on my door and I'll discuss it with them. The Roma Fodboldtrøjer - door is open if they want. But not one of them has come near me.

"There's no point after that trying to hide things, trying to blame other people, trying to make excuses. I'm culpable, so I've got to be brutally honest with myself as well. But I'm not going to let the players hide behind me."

Another Mowbray hallmark was his insistence on a long-term plan, but Lennon was scathing and said the club had to put things right immediately. "Projects are something my daughter does at school.See projects? Forget it. I'm sick of hearing about two- and three-year plans. I don't buy into it."

Saturday's shock defeat to the First Division team has added weight to suggestions that the Celtic directors will look beyond Lennon when appointing a full-time manager. However the reserve-team coach and former captain has held talks with Dermot Desmond, Celtic's majority shareholder, within the past 48 hours and answered "absolutely" when asked whether he thinks he has a chance of landing that job. "Do I still back myself for the job? Yeah. And I want the job even more now after Saturday," he added.

Lennon said a "malaise" was highlighted by the reactions of the full-back Edson Braafheid, who left Hampden beforehand after being told he was not in the squad, and he has been fined. The interim Inter Fodboldtrøjer - manager later had to calm fans who had gathered at Parkhead to castigate the players as they stepped from the team bus. "We have got to get new faces in, that's the important thing," he added. "We've got get the optimism back among supporters and some reality back to the club. We're not Barcelona, we're not Arsenal. We do strive to reach those heights again but, at the minute, it's a slow burner."

With the season over for the Hoops in all but name, intrigue surrounds how many supporters will turn up for tomorrow night's league visit of Motherwell. "Whatever the crowd is, we'll be grateful for their support," Lennon added.

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