Neil: Watt has to go from a Bhoy to a man

TONY WATT came off the bench to score a double in Lierse's local derby with Mechelen in what could be his final game for the Belgian club who want to cut short his season's loan.

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Neil is not ready to bring Watt back to Celtic yet
Neil is not ready to bring Watt back to Celtic yet

But if the troubled striker, who is 20 tomorrow, is to force his way back into Neil Lennon's plans at Celtic, the Hoops boss warns he has to turn from a boy to a man.

His immaturity was the reason behind Lennon's decision to send Watt out on loan to Lierse.

But this same failing has brought him into conflict with Belgian coach Stanley Menzo, who has publicly criticised his attitude.

However, after the double against Mechelen, Menzo said: "Today I'm glad we have him - but tomorrow I might want to murder him. That's just how it is with him."

Now, as the Belgian league shuts for a winter break, Watt is set for crunch talks with Lennon in Glasgow.

And the forward admits he will hold discussions about his future during Belgium's shutdown.

The man who hit the headlines with his winning goal against Barcelona last year still has six months of his loan deal to run, but admitted: "I don't know if I will return.

"I'm going to speak with my manager and we'll see what his plans are.

"I keep getting painted in a bad light, but I'm a long way from home and it hasn't been easy for me."

Ironically, Lennon is desperate to add a natural finisher to his squad.

But Watt - who was handed a new contract just days after his goal against Barca - will have to convince him he is a different Bhoy from the one who he sent to Belgium in the hope he would begin to appreciate what he has here and what he has to do to hold onto it.

The Hoops boss said: "I'll speak to Tony over the next week or so, see how he is feeling and what the situation is.

"I'm not of a mind to bring him back just yet. We've loaned him for the year, and I'd like him to see that one out.

"We couldn't put him out on loan anywhere else if he does come back (due to the fact he has already played for two clubs this season), so that's not crossed my mind."

Lennon still believes there is a decent player in Watt, but added: "He's not a man yet.

"Some players take a bit longer to mature than others. Not physically, that's in a mental aspect as well.

"But Tony is a good kid. There's an immaturity about him, and the reason for putting him on loan was to see life at a different place.

"We wanted him to sample a different culture and a different type of football.

"If it's not going well, then he needs to knuckle down and make it work. The onus is on him.

"He can be a difficult boy at times, but there's no malice in him or anything like that.

"He just needs to knuckle down and make the most of the opportunity he has."

Lennon did hold out some hope for Watt, however, insisting: "When he's finished (the loan), he will still be part of our plans for the future.

"There's no question that Tony has ability. He's raw and just needs to polish it off a bit and polish himself off as a fully-rounded figure.

"He definitely has ability."

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