Celtic can see the signs

CELTIC'S hurt at the crushing defeat to Barcelona will be used to spur them into signing action.

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Mo Bangura will return to Celtic to meet up with Efe Ambrose and Co after a loan stint at Elfsborg
Mo Bangura will return to Celtic to meet up with Efe Ambrose and Co after a loan stint at Elfsborg

Neil Lennon was already on the hunt for a striker before the 6-1 thumping in the Nou Camp, which saw them finish the Champions League with just three goals scored in six games in Group H.

The Hoops boss has tried to fill the gaping hole left by the sale of Gary Hooper to Norwich in July.

But despite his side scoring 12 goals in the two domestic games prior to Wednesday's tie, summer recruits Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde have shown no sign of being able to fill Hooper's shooting boots.

Mo Bangura will return from his loan spell with Elfsborg within the next two weeks after being given time to recover from his season with the Swedish club.

But Lennon acknowledges he needs an out-and-out goalscorer, good enough at every level to convert the chances his side makes.

The summer list of signing near-misses for the position has been revisited with a view to seeing if any of them could now be delivered. And, along with coach Garry Parker, Lennon has already made scouting trips down south to watch, among others, Huddersfield's James Vaughan and Burnley's Danny Ings.

Vaughan has been a long-term signing target for the Parkhead club. The 25-year-old has rediscovered the scoring form - 12 in 18 games this term - which first brought him to their attention when he was set to leave Everton.

But, it could take a club-record transfer fee from Celtic to prise him away from a team with ambitions to make the play-offs in the Championsip.

It would take a similar commitment to land Ings, who has burst to prominence with Championship-topping Burnley, scoring 15 goals in just 22 appearances this season.

He has already forced his way into the England Under-21 side. Lennon can use Fraser Forster's progress into Roy Hodgson's squad as leverage when trying to sell a move to Ings.

But he is aware there is stiff competition for his signature, with Liverpool watching on.

Lennon readily acknowledges the January transfer window is much more difficult to deal in than the summer market.

But with the European qualifiers coming so early again next year, he will pull out all the stops to get players in next month and has other options, if neither Ings nor Vaughan can be hooked.

With the club still waiting for Joe Ledley and Georgios Samaras over the deals offered to them, Lennon is also looking to strengthen other positions.

Japanese attacking midfielder, Hiroko Yamada, has been invited to Lennoxtown for a trial.

But, confusion still surrounds his status as Lennon was initially led to believe he would be available as a free transfer, while the player's club, Jubilo Iwata, claim he has a year left on his contract.


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