Celtic manager Neil Lennon looks to reward his golden Bhoys

Neil Lennon has declared himself satisfied with the late additions he made to Celtic's squad, but that doesn't mean he has finished knocking on Peter Lawwell's door yet.

Loading Comments
Share
Print
Efe Ambrose has been likened to Celt icon Bobo Balde as he joins the Hoops
Efe Ambrose has been likened to Celt icon Bobo Balde as he joins the Hoops

The Hoops manager is also looking to tie up some of his existing first-team players on better deals, with Gary Hooper still in line for a new bumper contract.

Despite interest from Southampton, the striker remained at Celtic this summer although it appeared as though talks about a new deal had stalled.

Lennon, however, has revealed that Hooper is one of those whom he has spoken to the club's chief executive about and, with Celtic in a steady financial position because of the forthcoming Champions League bounty, he is expected to be offered lucrative terms.

The 24-year-old netted 29 goals last season for the club and an improved deal seems to be on the cards.

"I have spoken to Peter about it," said the Celtic manager. "There are a few players whose contracts I'd want to bump up, guys who have done exceptionally well here and I think they deserve it.

"Gary is already in talks with the club and there will be one or two others whom I also think might deserve to have their contracts looked at."

Meanwhile, Lennon believes that the acquisition of Nigerian international Efe Ambrose will give him more versatility between defence and midfield.

The 23-year-old has been on Lennon's radar for quite some time. The Celtic boss has been on the hunt for a commanding defender and believes that while comparisons may be made between Ambrose and his former Parkhead team-mate Bobo Balde because the duo share the same powerful, determined approach, he thinks Ambrose is more technically adept.

"He isn't quite as big as Bobo in stature, but he is big and he's very strong," he said. "He'll probably be quicker than Bobo and technically at this age I think he's a little better than Bobo.

"He can play as centre-half or centre-midfield and he is one that we have liked for a while. Daniel (Majstorovic) fitted that profile somewhat, but injuries really curtailed his involvement, especially last season.

"We do like what we see with Efe. But he has many other attributes rather than being just a big bruiser."

It will be almost a fortnight now before Lennon will get the chance to have a look at his newly-bolstered squad together.

The international break means that it is a skeleton squad at Lennoxtown until next Friday with the qualifying campaign for the 2014 Fifa World Cup finals set to get underway.

Lennon will have members of his squad all over the globe, but there is one player who will remain at Lennoxtown this week who the Celtic boss would have expecting to be pulling on the dark blue shirt of his country at Hampden.

Kris Commons was left out of Craig Levein's squad for the double header against Serbia and Macedonia and given the manner in which the midfielder has started the season for Celtic, Lennon was more than a little bit surprised by his omission. Not that he will be complaining too loudly, especially since Commons has been carrying an ankle knock for the last few weeks.

LENNON explained: "I spoke to Craig last year and we both agreed that he wasn't in the form good enough to be picked," explained the Celtic manager. "But coming back this season I think he has shown the form of old.

"Craig has a lot of players in that position and he has shown faith in them which is fair enough. I'm delighted – not for Kris – but as a manager as we've got a long season ahead and it means that he is getting a wee break just before our Champions League campaign will begin.

"Kris has had an ankle problem since the Inter Milan game which is why he didn't start on Saturday. The break gives him a chance to recover fully from that and get himself ready for what lies ahead.

"If he maintains the form that he has shown for us, though, I'm sure that it won't be long before he finds himself back in there."

It will be with trepidation that Lennon will watch the various international games unfold over the next 10 days as he hopes for no more injury problems.

He is already struggling with near-on an entire midfield out – Scott Brown, Beram Kayal, Georgios Samaras, Joe Ledley, Dylan McGeouch, Victor Wanyama and Charlie Mulgrew – and despite the recent additions, Lennon can't cope with any more absences.

"We haven't had a chance to get into our stride yet simply because we have to keep rejigging things with the injuries we've had," he said. "We have had a hectic start and picked up a few problems but we have blooded a lot of young players and they have all acquitted themselves very well.

"The squad is starting to take a bit of shape now and when the boys come back from international duty we'll get a proper chance to see everyone together and see how things are looking.

"At the minute, I am pleased with the guys we have been able to bring in but it will be good to get a full squad together with everyone fit and available.

"We can't afford too many more injuries. It was great to get two or three players in because it doesn't just bolster the squad, it gives everyone a bit of a lift as well. I'm sure the lads we've brought in will enhance the quality that we've got."

One player whom Lennon will pay particular interest to this week is his young winger James Forrest.

The rising star has picked up where he left off from last term. There will be a fair degree of pressure on his shoulders with Scotland this week since he will be expected to reproduce his club form on the international stage, but Lennon has no issues with that in itself.

"He can handle the pressure," he said. "He has shown that here, that a level of expectation does not faze him. He is producing it week in, week out for us. I hope he carries that on because if you go away and perform well for you country then you can return to your club with a bit of a spring in your step.

"I don't want to labour the point, but for a young guy, James has been brilliant for us and he has also been very consistent.

"I have no doubt that he'll take that form into the Scotland games."

Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

100739

Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Sussed in the City

What have you done to your face Renee Zellweger

Times Out

Entertainment

Lifestyle

TV Advert
Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.

Games news:

Putting the world to rights

Gail's Gab

The sight of wee dolphins choking to death on discarded supermarket bags helped me and I now use reusable shoppers

Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat Cubie’s job is to find and share with you the fabulous things the city has to offer, from gigs to gastro.