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Saturday 16 November 2019

Lennon unhappy as Bangura faces nightmare scenario

Mo Bangura will line up against Celtic for Elfsborg in tonight, despite objections from Neil Lennon
Mo Bangura will line up against Celtic for Elfsborg in tonight, despite objections from Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon admits his bid to prevent Mo Bangura lining up against Celtic for Elfsborg in tonight's Champions League third qualifier at Parkhead has almost certainly been in vain.

The Hoops manager has been strident in his position that the on-loan Hoops striker would be best served not playing against his parent club.

However, the 24-year-old striker from Sierra Leone arrived in Glasgow for the first leg, with the Swedish club's boss Jorgen Lennartsson reiterating that he will play if required.

Lennon is now preparing for a "strange sort of scenario."

"I am not going to make a big song and dance about it, but there is a big possibility that Mo could play," he said.

"If he plays, he plays and we are preparing for it as if he is playing.

"You would probably need to ask him how he is feeling more than me.

"We made our feelings pretty clear, but we have to respect Elfsborg's decision. I am trying to do what's best for Celtic and the Elfsborg manager is trying to do what's best for Elfsborg.

"There is a good relationship between the two clubs, I just think it puts Mo in a very difficult position. I wouldn't like to be in that position myself. I am sure Mo will know plenty about our players, but we have plenty of information on Elfsborg.

"I watched them at the weekend and Johan (Mjallby, Celtic's Swedish assistant) knows Swedish football very well, so we will be prepared for them."

Midfielder Joe Ledley was quoted as saying that if Bangura (left) "scored the winner and knocked us out of the Champions League, then it would be difficult for him to come back."

Lennon was asked about the nightmare scenario and he recognised the danger.

"We are talking hypothetically, so we will cross that bridge if and when we come to it," he said. "It is a situation that doesn't occur very much in football, but we will deal with as best we can."

Lennon stressed the increase in quality Elfsborg represent in comparison to Cliftonville, the part-time side from Northern Ireland whom the Scottish champions beat 5-0 on aggregate in the previous round.

"They are the Swedish champions with international players, full-time and 17 games into their season, so they are match-sharp," he said.

"They are a very well-organised side who pass the ball well. There is a good mixture of youth and experience in their team and they are obviously off the back of winning the title so they come into this season confident."

Lennon, who insisted there had been no second bid from Nottingham Forest for defender Kelvin Wilson, revealed that Derk Boerrigter will be added to his squad if the 26-year-old Ajax forward completes his medical. The Northern Irishman said: "He is the type of player we have been looking for.

"He is a very fast, direct, left-footed player who has goals in him with his left and right foot. He is also very powerful. He has played at a high level for the last two or three years. So, if all goes well, we will be absolutely delighted to get that over the line."

Irish Independent

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