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McCourt told he has 'big part' to play at Parkhead

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has assured Paddy McCourt he has a major role to play in the coming weeks and months.

McCourt has not started for Celtic since netting a superb solo winner at Inverness on the opening day of the season.

A neck injury sustained celebrating that goal saw McCourt fall out of the team, although he has come off the bench in Celtic's three other SPL wins.

The winger did so again to great effect on Saturday, netting another brilliant individual effort as Celtic beat Hearts 3-0.

McCourt, who signed a new three-year contract in the summer, admitted after the match he felt he had to produce something special every time he played given the competition for places.

But Lennon, whose team face Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Sunday, fully intends to utilise the former Rochdale and Derry City player's talents.

"It was a wonderful goal and I enjoyed Paddy's performance," said Lennon.

"He is going to play a part this season, no doubt about it.

"The more he trains on a regular basis, the less we need to worry about his injury problems.

"He is in a good place. He is ready to play and will play a big part in the next few weeks."

One of the creative players blocking McCourt's path to a starting spot is Shaun Maloney, who has also netted two SPL goals this season.

But Maloney has often been deployed in a central role and that is exactly how Lennon sees him playing during the campaign.

"He is emerging, and I know it's early in the season, as a big player for us," the Celtic manager said.