Thursday 18 January 2018

Lennon: Immature Watt needs to knuckle down

Tony Watt
Tony Watt

Roddy Forsyth

With a belated but spectacular flourish, Tony Watt -- scorer of the winning goal in Celtic's Champions League victory over Barcelona last year -- may have taken the edge off the conversation he is due to have with Neil Lennon about where his career is headed.

The striker, who celebrates his 20th birthday tomorrow, has been on loan to Lierse since September, but has incurred the ire of manager Stanley Menzo on several occasions. He was twice sent home from training with the Belgian Pro League club and last week Menzo dropped him from the squad for last week's relegation dogfight against Waasland-Beveren, and said: "It's clear to me Tony does not know what he's doing. You can't keep talking to someone who doesn't want to listen."

However, Watt came on as a substitute in Thursday's derby match against Mechelen, and scored twice in a 3-0 victory. Lierse's victory saw them draw level with Mechelen on points near the foot of the league.

"I think I've just got good timing. The rest of the season has been substandard," Watt said afterwards.

"Am I coming back? I'm going home to talk to some people about that."

It remains to be seen whether or not Watt will be back when the campaign resumes at home to Brugge on January 18. However, Lennon is not willing to allow the player to give up halfway through a loan deal that was agreed for the whole of the season.

"I'm not of a mind to bring him back just yet. We've loaned him for the year and I'd like him to see that one out," said Lennon. "There's an immaturity about Tony and the reason for putting him on loan was that we wanted him to sample a different culture and a different type of football. He needs to knuckle down and make it work. The onus is on him. He's not a man yet. Some players take longer to mature than others but Tony is a good kid."

Meanwhile, Celtic striker Anthony Stokes -- who has also had his share of unfavourable headlines -- said that Watt's goal against Barcelona might have been a case of too much, too soon for the player, although he declined to hand out advice. "I'm not the one to do that!" said the Dubliner.

"He just needs to get his head down. He was thrown into the limelight here after he scored against Barcelona and it was probably a lot of pressure for him -- he was only 18 -- so this will probably do him a world of good."

Celtic, meanwhile, travel to Inverness to meet Caley Thistle tomorrow intent on taking their unbeaten Scottish Premiership record into 2014. "People look at the Scottish game without -- they will say -- competition, but I've got to make this team better," said Lennon. (©Daily Telegraph, London)



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