CELTIC will today check on the condition of comeback stars James Forrest and Beram Kayal after they played significant parts in last night's opening tour game against Augsburg.
Forrest, who captained the Hoops just days after his 21st birthday, had not kicked a ball since damaging an ankle bone in the Scottish Communities League Cup final in March, while the Isreali only got back to the first-team bench at the very end of last season after recovering from an ankle knock he sustained in December's Old Firm game at Parkhead.
Kayal was allowed to remain on the field for 71 minutes of a game than ended goalless while the young Scot was substituted on 60 minutes at the Staufeepark Stadion, just outside Donawourth.
The venue was chosen by the hosts as part of their policy of taking the game to the people, and approximately 4000 took advantage to attend.
Celtic's Bundesliga opponents had the benefit of three warm-up matches prior to this meeting, so they were always going to be one step ahead of Lennon's side in terms of match-fitness and sharpness.
The Celtic manager will not welcome back Victor Wanyama, Georgios Samaras, Emilio Izaguirre, and Mikael Lustig for, in some cases, another week as they were given extra time to recover from their exertions with respective national teams.
With Ki Sung-Yeung drafted into Olympic duty with South Korea for the remainder of the month, Adam Matthews nursing a muscle strain, Kris Commons and Thomas Rogne also suffering knocks, Scott Brown given the night off, and having jettisoned a clutch of experienced players at the end of last season, Lennon augmented his group with youngsters Andre Blackman, Tony Watt, Filip Twardzik, Lewis Toshney and winger Dylan McGeouch.
The always-composed Twardzik was on the left side of a back three, with Kelvin Wilson on the right beside Charlie Mulgrew. McGeouch, Kayal, Blackman and Joe Ledley were strung across midfield to try and protect them, while Forrest sat in behind the twin strike force of Gary Hooper and Anthony Stokes.
However, the system, and the players' rustiness, was badly exposed in the opening stages as Augsburg exploited the uncertainty shown by Celtic.
Fraser Forster was required to make vital saves and interceptions from Marcel de Jong and Stephan Hain.
The unmistakable sound of Lennon barking orders to his players amplified the disarray on the field. The sight of Wilson failing to find Forster with a rushed pass back, and then former signing target, Zimbabwean striker Knowledge Musona, missing from close-range after Hain found spaced for the cross from the bye-line did nothing to dilute the manager's displeasure.
Despite both Forrest and McGeouch having switched positions, Celtic struggled to make any significant inroads toward the Augsburg goal.
Indeed, the only occasion Celtic did threaten in the first half came just before the break when an Anthony Stokes chip over the top was taken by Hooper on his chest, but, by the time he set himself for his shot, Gibril Sankoh recovered to block.
Sankoh saw the over-worked but in-form Forster save from his header early in the second half after the keeper had made another excellent block to turn a Musona shot wide.
Paddy McCourt's arrival in place of the tiring Forrest on the hour mark was designed to allow Celtic more creativity in the centre of the park, and forgotten man Daryl Murphy was also called into action, with Hooper making way.
Murphy came close to making an immediate impact, striking an effort off the outside of a post with snap shot.
By then, Blackman's mistimed tackle on Paul Verhaegh had earned him a booking, and Celtic had certainly begun to put some pressure on the ball as they finally got nearer to the pace of the game.
It allowed them to finish strongly, and, in the context of pre-season preparation, that was as much as Lennon could ask, with the return of Forrest and Kayal the real reason to be pleased.
AUGSBURG: Jentzsch; Verhaegh, Sankoh, Baier, Werner; Moravek, Langkamp, de Jong, Callsen-Bracker; Hain, Musona. Subs: Klavan, Vogt, Ostrzolek, Nebel, Amsif, Thiede, Strohmaier, Pigl, Mustic.
CELTIC: Forster; Wilson, Mulgrew, F Twardzik: McGeouch, Kayal (Toshney 71), Ledley, Blackman; Forrest (McCourt 60); Stokes (Watt 71), Hooper (Murphy 63). Sub not used: Zaluska.