If you wish upon a star ... don't ask me, they're not going far

NEIL LENNON has a not-too-festive message for any clubs thinking of doing their Christmas shopping among the stars at his club.

Loading Comments
Share
Print

James Forrest, Beram Kayal, Gary Hooper, Georgios Samaras, Adam Matthews and Ki Sung-Yueng are on the shopping list of covetous managers down south and further afield.

But, with the transfer window about to open, Lennon has warned that Celtic have no intention of providing any January sales.

In fact, his intention is to add to his collection of quality players as he prepares for a second-half-of-the-season assault on the SPL title.

That will be a huge disappointment for the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle and Palermo, who have been linked with moves for some of the Hoops' top names.

Lennon is keeping cool, and believes the club have protected their position by tying down the men they want to keep.

He responded to growing speculation that big offers are on their way for the likes of Kayal by insisting: "I am not concerned about that at all.

"Beram has signed a new contract and, while, obviously, I will speak to the board about it, I will be discouraging any bids coming in for any of my players at the minute."

Lennon refutes the suggestion that, even if he is successful in his attempt to retain all of his best players, he does need to offload some players in this window because the squad looks bloated.

"I have got nine out on loan, and I think that is a lot," he was quick to point out.

"We have cut the wage bill right down in the last year and a half.

"We have given new contracts to Emilio Izaguirre, Beram Kayal, James Forrest and Charlie Mulgrew because we felt they deserved it.

"We have also given new contracts to the likes of Scott Brown and Georgios Samaras because we did not want them leaving the club.

"We want to build a team here, not take it apart."

Swedish full-back Mikael Lustig has already been recruited on a Bosman and will report for duty at the end of this month. And there a clutch of others on the check list.

Lennon has spent much of the limited free time available to him in recent weeks by slipping away to run the rule over players he believes can help take this side to the next level.

Jordan Rhodes – who hit all four of Huddersfield's goals at the weekend – has been put under the microscope, and, on Saturday, it was long-term target Baba Diawara of Maritimo whose form was reviewed by the manager.

Another striker and a centre-back are the priorities, but Lennon would also like to tie down loan keeper Fraser Forster on a permanent deal.

He is also open to considering any player in any position he believes would enhance his squad, but he is understandably reticent when it comes to detailing his precise plans.

Lennon said: "We're looking at players, but we will not be doing anything until January.

"We have two very important games before then, against Kilmarnock on Saturday, then Rangers next midweek.

"We are trying to identify players, but getting them in January can prove difficult."

This time last year, he was successful in recruiting Kris Commons, and also secured Kelvin Wilson and Adam Matthews on pre-contracts.

All three have proved to be shrewd signings, though injury has interrupted their season.

This has been particularly frustrating for Wilson, who was frozen out at Nottingham Forest from January until the end of the season after he rejected their offer of a new contract and agreed to move to Parkhead.

An Achilles injury picked up during the League Cup tie against Ross County has kept him out since September. But the central defender is now ready to return.

He has played a bounce game against Hibs at Lennoxtown, and will get another 90 minutes in a similar match this week.

Wilson's return could not be better timed with the news that Daniel Majstorovic's facial injuries will keep him out until well into the new year.

Despite him being included among the subs at McDiarmid Park on Sunday, Lennon resisted the temptation to throw Wilson into the fray when the Swede went off, preferring instead to send Thomas Rogne on to partner Victor Wanyama.

It created a very inexperienced and youthful central defensive pairing, but Lennon explained his reasoning: "Thomas is just a bit more robust.

"Obviously, Kelvin has come back into our plans. He was on the bench, but he has not played enough football yet.

"Thomas has also been injured, but had been out for a shorter period of time.

"Kelvin, just at the minute, needs a little bit more football just to get him back up to match speed.

"But we have another game arranged for this week, so he is not far away."

Provided he emerges unscathed from today's closed-door game, Wilson will be a strong contender for a starting place against Killie on Saturday.

"Absolutely, he will be," confirmed Lennon. "We have Kelvin, Thomas and Charlie Mulgrew all in contention."

Losing Majstorovic at a time when the giant Swede has rediscovered his best form is a massive blow, and he joins a very long list of players who have been sidelined this season.

However, ahead of the crucial festive period, there is better news involving others who have been on the treatment table in recent weeks.

Lennon reported: "Joe Ledley, hopefully, will start training again this week. Adam Matthews is not far away, either.

"We hope Kris Commons will be training again in the next week or so.

"But Anthony Stokes might have more than a niggle. It could be a strain, so we are a little bit concerned about that."

The striker picked up the injury when he came on as a substitute against Udinese last Thursday, and missed Sunday's game at Perth when Celtic recorded their seventh straight SPL win.

Lennon was relieved to see they did not suffer a hangover from their efforts in Italy, and reckons they took a lot of confidence from the way they battled against Udinese.

"Coming off the back of Thursday, they're really in the groove," he said.

"They've found the form of last season earlier than they did last year."

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.

92308

Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
Games news:

Putting the world to rights

Gail's Gab

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

Times Out

Entertainment

Lifestyle

TV Advert
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.

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You Couldn't Make This Up

The secret world of the wheelie bin.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Columnist Michelle McManus is Sussed in the City, and loves to chat about anything and everything.