| 12.9°C Dublin

Finland boss backs Pukki to find form at Parkhead


Celtic's Teemu Pukki. Picture credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire.

Celtic's Teemu Pukki. Picture credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire.

Celtic's Teemu Pukki. Picture credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire.

TEEMU PUKKI has proven himself as a top-class striker and will do the same at Celtic if given time, according to his international manager, Mixu Paatelainen.

Finland boss Paatelainen admits he is surprised that Pukki has not made more of an impact at Parkhead following his move from Schalke in August, with the former HJK Helsinki striker only scoring three goals in 21 appearances.

But Paatelainen feels that Celtic manager Neil Lennon is the right man to get the best out of the 23-year-old.

The former Hibernian and Kilmarnock manager said: "It has been a sticky start but he has all the attributes to make it happen.

"He has scored goals for Finland against top nations in the the world like Spain and he can score goals for Celtic. There is no question about that.

"At a top club like Celtic there is not too much time before the verdict is out. But one thing for sure is that he can do it."

Lennon has made no secret of his desire to sign a striker in January despite moving for Pukki and Amido Baldé in the summer, with the Portuguese having made less of an impact in Scotland.

Pukki admitted at the weekend that it might be next season before he hits top form for Celtic after getting little time to work with his new team-mates on the training ground in between games, although he will have this week in Turkey to help him as Celtic embark on their mini winter-break.

And Paatelainen did not expect him to take so long to settle.

"I am a little bit surprised because I know he can do it and he has done it," the former Dundee United, Aberdeen and Hibs striker said.

"But I also realise that it doesn't always happen when you change a club. Something a little different about the way the team plays or the way you are asked to play, it might not click straight away.

"I know from the way Neil Lennon speaks about Teemu, he understands the situation and he understands the type of personality Teemu is, and I think that's very important in any case.

"Teemu is in good hands with Neil Lennon and Celtic and I am sure he will turn the corner."