Celtic’s matchwinner in this friendly against Liverpool, Amido Balde, is still being eased into life with the Parkhead side, according to manager Neil Lennon.
Scorer: Celtic - Balde (12)
Celtic have played five matches so far this season, with the 22-year-old striker having made just one appearance. But he put in a strong performance against the Reds and scored the only goal at a packed Aviva Stadium.
Lennon said: “He has done very well. He is unfortunate not to have started some more competitive games but we want to ease him into it.”
The striker, originally from Guinea-Bissau, was signed in the summer from Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes and Lennon added: “There is a hunger about him. He has been an excellent acquisition to the squad.
“He is a different type of player to what we’ve had. We’ve not had that physical presence since John Hartson and Chris Sutton and sometimes you need that when pitches get rough in the winter.
“He is raw, we know that, and he has a lot of work to do, but he has some great attributes.’’
Lennon is still hoping to add to his squad before the end of the transfer window.
He added: “There is money there and we just have to find the right one and the affordability of the player in terms of transfer fee. We are working hard.’’
Despite the scoreline, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted with one of his strikers.
England international Daniel Sturridge made his first appearance of the summer when he returned from an ankle injury sustained in May to play 45 minutes. The 23-year-old’s return will be a welcome boost for Rodgers given the ongoing furore surrounding Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan has been told to apologise by Rodgers in the wake of his repeated attempts to force a move from the club amid interest from Arsenal, and has been training away from the first-team squad.
“Initially there will be a recognition that [there needs to be] an apology to his team-mates and the club,’’ said Rodgers when asked what Suarez needed to do next. “I have seen him over a period of time and I know it is not the Luis Suarez we know and I have to protect the fans and the players because they deserve more than that.’’
Even if Suarez stays, Sturridge’s return is timely with the South American banned for the first six games of the season after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
Asked about Sturridge, Rodgers said: “I thought he was excellent. He made a difference when he came on with that power and pace and that link-up play with [Philippe]) Coutinho was great.
“He is working hard to get fit and, after those 45 minutes, we have a behind-closed-doors game in midweek and we’ll assess him after that.’’