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Lennon keen on Johansen

Neil Lennon has confirmed Celtic's interest in Stromsgodset midfielder Stefan Johansen.

Celtic are expected to put in a bid in the region of €2.5m over the weekend as transfer business accelerates.

Lennon has gone on record to state that his transfer priority is to sign a striker, but with no sign of progress in talks with Georgios Samaras and Joe Ledley, the Hoops boss will have to consider bringing in a new midfielder.

Asked about Norway's Johansen after watching Celtic beat Trabzonspor 3-1 to reach the final of the Antalya Cup, Lennon said: "There is an interest there and we have made an enquiry for him, but that's as far as it has gone.

"I don't know where we are with that one or how far down the line we are with it. We have known about him for a few years now.

"Any signings we make would be ones we would be hoping to bring in now. We won't be doing any loans or anything like that.

"He is a young player who we have heard good things about and we've had him watched a couple of times."

Goals from Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde, who also assisted former Leicester defender Sol Balba with an own goal, pleased Lennon as Celtic booked a place in Sunday's Antalya Cup Final against Ajax or Galatasaray.

With a commanding lead in the Scottish Premier League, Celtic opted to postpone their scheduled match at home to Kilmarnock today to enjoy some Turkish sunshine and training.

Goals for Balde and Pukki are a welcome bonus with the €4.5m duo failing to hit the ground running after their signing in the summer.

Lennon admitted: "The two of them worked very hard, deserved their goals and that will do them the world of good overall. I think they are good players who just found it a bit difficult to adapt to the expectation, the pressure, the games.

HANDFUL

"But they are coming along quite nicely. We always knew Amido would be a long-haul type but he showed again tonight what a handful he can be.

"I was really happy with Teemu as well. They need confidence.

"It's easy people saying they need a run of games, but when the team is playing so well, they have to knock on the door and that's what I want them to do."

Atletico Madrid and Trabzonspor are believed to have stepped up their interest in Samaras, who remained in Glasgow while his teammates trained in Turkey.

Irish U-19 defender Eoghan O'Connell made his Celtic debut last night as a 66th-minute substitute for Virgil van Dijk after impressing for Celtic's development side.


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