Thursday 22 February 2018

Lennon looks to bolster lacklustre Bhoys attack

Roddy Forsyth

Celtic will be on the transfer hunt again in January, with the emphasis on a striker, after their lacklustre display in Wednesday's 1-0 Champions League defeat by Ajax – a result that threatens to leave Neill Lennon's squad without the spur of European football after Christmas.

Lennon started with four attackers in the Amsterdam Arena and another two came off the bench, but there was no remedy for the lack of ruthlessness diagnosed by the manager in recent weeks.

Lennon will not abandon the forwards he has got – he has little option but to persevere with them – but he knows that the most urgent need is to find a reliable scorer, although he is also entirely aware that it is the most expensive position to fill.

"That is where the big bucks are – that is where players cost money," he said.

"We will try to be inventive on that. I think that in Teemu Pukki we have a player who will score goals. He needs a bit of time to settle to the game but he has shown more indication now that he is getting used to playing the style of football here.

STRENGTHEN

"We did try to bring players in during the summer but some options proved fruitless. Some players were too expensive and some chose not to come, but we'll look again in January to improve and strengthen the squad.

"We're playing in the Champions League, though. We have set expectation levels very, very high and when you go away and do not perform for 45 minutes, it is not like us.

"We'd performed so well in all the games so far but that first 45 was the biggest disappointment so far in the campaign.

"If we had have competed in the first half the way we did in the second half then the outcome would have been different."

Having hit some form of psychological obstacle in midweek, Celtic are required to go from brick wall to Dingwall for today's lunchtime kick-off against Ross County – whose last two games have been abandoned – in a piece of fixture scheduling that has displeased Lennon.

"It's ridiculous; I'm really angry about it," he said. "I just don't think it's fair. We have had a really tough game on Wednesday night and I've got no time to work with the players before we go up there.

"There's no reason why it couldn't be a 3.0 kick-off or a Sunday game. We have to go three hours up the road and play an early match, then I've got 12 players away on international duty.

"Mikael Lustig and Georgios Samaras have meaningful games but the rest are just friendlies. It drives me up the wall." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Ross County v Celtic,

Live, BT Sport 1, 12.45

Irish Independent

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