Celtic boss Neil Lennon calls on special reserves

NEIL LENNON will throw the gauntlet down to his fringe players and kids tomorrow night in the final of the Antalya Cup.

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Neil Lennon hopes to land Celtic's first trophy of 2014
Neil Lennon hopes to land Celtic's first trophy of 2014

The Celtic boss wants to see what he has in reserve before, hopefully, finalising the transfer business in this window.

With several of the senior squad having been sent on holiday following Thursday's 3-1 win over Trabzonspor, a result which earned the Hoops a spot in the final, the door is open for players with aspirations to make the manager sit up and take notice.

Lennon already has his mind on next weekend's SPFL game against Motherwell and confirmed: "A few of the lads are going home and we are going to give them a bit of a rest now.

"We will use the rest of the squad and the younger players to give them some valuable experience, as well."

Lennon has already been given food for thought by Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde, both on the scoresheet against Trabzonspor.

The race to get at least one more striker in before the window closes in 20 days is picking up pace.

Wolves' Leigh Griffiths is still under consideration, though the Scotland international could be offered the chance to move to Spain.

The bid to land Sporting Lisbon's rising star, midfielder Carlos Mane, looks like being put on hold until the summer.

The 19-year-old winger has a £1million buy-out clause in his contract, but the Portuguese club are not prepared to sell him in this window.

But efforts to negotiate a £2m deal with Stromsgodset for Stefan Johansen will be stepped up over the weekend.

With Georgios Samaras appearing to be edging nearer and nearer to the exit door, Lennon is content to leave all of this business to chief executive Peter Lawwell and the scouting team.

The manager's focus will be on completing their involvement in the Antalya Cup, which they hope can become the first trophy picked up by the club in 2014.

He has already seen the benefit of taking the squad to Turkey, and reckons Pukki and Balde - who are set to start again tomorrow - have already made the most of the break.

Lennon told Celtic TV: "They needed the game, and the goals will give them a lot of confidence.

"But, it wasn't just the goals, it was the way they played. Their overall contribution was fantastic."

Lennon has also been delighted to see Nir Biton and Derk Boerrigter back in action, and said: "Biton was excellent and Boerrigter played very well, so those four can be really pleased."


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