ELFSBORG remain intent on fielding on-loan Celtic striker Mo Bangura against his parent club, despite Parkhead manager Neil Lennon stating that he wanted the forward to sit out the Champions League qualifier between the teams.
The Sierra Leone player, who struggled to make an impact at Celtic after joining for £2.2 million from AIK Solna two years ago, admits he has a major moral dilemma on his hands after being placed at the centre of difficult situation. He remains a Celtic player officially, but his wages are currently being paid by Elfsborg, the Swedish club who took him on a year’s loan back in January.
There is no rule stating that he can’t play against his parent club and there is no clause in his contract either. However, he risks riling Celtic, the club he is scheduled to return to at the end of the year, if he does turn out against Lennon’s wishes.
Elfsborg are adamant that he will line up for them in the first leg at Parkhead this Wednesday. “This is an issue where Celtic are doing what will they think will give them the best chance to win,” said Jorgen Lennartsson, the Swedish club’s manager. “We will make decisions what we think are best for us. We are focused on the match, but I’ve talked to Bangura about the game.
“Celtic’s role in this is to send signals out which they think will help. There’s £20m at stake for them. We have to do what’s best for Elfsborg, since Bangura’s loan agreement has nothing in it that says he can not play in this game. I have not the slightest doubt that he will give 100 per cent for us.”
The Swedes, however, will not allow Bangura to take a penalty against Celtic after he missed one in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Atvidaberg, a match watched by Lennon and his assistant Johan Mjallby. Asked if Bangura would take a spot-kick in Glasgow, Lennartsson replied: “No, he will not.”
Lennon remains hopeful that Elfsborg will alter their stance and take Bangura out of the firing line. He said: “I haven’t spoken to Mo yet, but if I get the chance I’ll do it. He is our player and is going back to Celtic, so it is quite logical that he should not play against us.
“Actually, I don’t want to put more pressure on him, but Elfsborg should understand that it is a tough situation for him and not let him play. But if they still let him play, we will handle the situation accordingly. We bought him for a great deal of money and know how dangerous he can be.”
Bangura himself admits the situation is taking its toll on him mentally. “There is so much pressure on me right now,” said the 24-year-old. “I am going to have to sleep over it. It is hard for me, but I just have to get on with it. I really don’t know what to do to be honest, but I have not spoken to Neil Lennon.”