Fringe men fired up by Turkey trip

NEIL LENNON expects his fringe players to come to the fore after they showed they were hot to trot in Turkey.

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Teemu Pukki has benefited from Celtic's trip to Turkey
Teemu Pukki has benefited from Celtic's trip to Turkey

Teemu Pukki, Amido Balde, Nir Biton and Derk Boerrigter are the buoyant Bhoys the Hoops boss believes will have benefited most from participation in the Antalya Cup.

Now Lennon anticipates they will put the pressure on regular picks after getting game time in Turkey. "I think they got a huge shot of confidence from that, which is exactly what we were looking for," he said.

"What we have now is those four pushing for a place, which makes the competition in the squad healthier."

Stefan Johansen will soon be battling for a jersey, though Lennon says tomorrow's match against Motherwell is too soon for the £2million signing.

"Stefan trained yesterday, and is well-balanced, has a nice left foot and is a very athletic player with a good range of passing," said the manager.

Lennon says Johansen will add quality to ­midfield and is the right age to make his name.

He has not played since November, so the manager plans fitness work on top of football work.

Lennon added: "He can play centrally or on the left hand side. We haven't got a set position for him yet and just want to integrate him as quickly as possible and get him used to the players.

"It won't take long before he's in the team."

Whoever he picks tomorrow Lennon expects them to be tested by Motherwell. He has been astonished to see flak aimed at Stuart McCall.

He said: "Stuart's done fantastically well, winning six games in a row after disappointing defeats to ourselves and Albion Rovers.

"He was coming in for what I felt was totally unjustified criticism.

"Stuart's had a rebuilding job to do, with the quality of players who have gone out the door.

"But they are still there, winning games and in third place. They will be confident coming into this game: we'll have to be very mindful of that."


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