Celtic boss Neil Lennon reveals why Hatem Abd Elhamed was allowed to leave and talks up Stephen Welsh's future

Compassionate grounds were given by Celtic manager Neil Lennon for Hatem Abd Elhamed being allowed to leave the club, a deal agreed that will see Israeli defender return to old club Hapoel Be’er Sheeva.
Neil Lennon during Celtic's 2-1 win over Motherwell. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)Neil Lennon during Celtic's 2-1 win over Motherwell. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Neil Lennon during Celtic's 2-1 win over Motherwell. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“He was going through a really difficult time, his wife and son were back in Israel and he was here on his own and he was really struggling with life away from the training ground and stadium,” said Lennon, of a deal still to be finaised with the team he was signed from in the summer of 2019. “We have to take into consideration the human factor on that. I wouldn't say he was suffering with depression but he was very low, so we have made the right decision for him and the club. I think their transfer window is open, so there are no issues with that.”

Lennon spoke on the Elhamed situation after his side’s 2-1 win over Motherwell. It was a contest. Celtic were on a roll in going two-up with goals from Stephen Welsh and Odsonne Edouard, only to be blown off course across a nervy closing 20 minutes, a 93rd minute goalline clearance from Diego Laxalt preserving their victory following a deflected effort from Allan Campbell. Welsh’s scoing display earned him armchair supporters’ man of the match, and made for a good week for the young centre-back following a solid showing in the 4-0 win at Kilmarnock.

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“He's put together two really strong games,” said Lennon. “There's nothing to change my thinking at the minute with that partnership [with Kristoffer Ajer]. He's been on the periphery for a few years and never lets us down. He's a model pro.

“It was a great header [for his goal] but the delivery from [David] Turnbull is superb, it's a facet of our game that has improved with David - Scott Brown's goal on Tuesday, [Mohamed] Elyounoussi's a few weeks ago at Livingston. It was another great delivery today and you when it leaves his foot that any contact at all and it could be a goal. That's a real asset he's brought to the squad.

"I thought we deserved it. I thought we were outstanding for a good 60-70 minutes, then Motherwell get a bit of luck with the goal and change the psychology of it but our reaction was okay, their keeper has made a good save from Tom [Rogic]. I thought we would see the game out but we had an anxious moment at the end and are thankful to Diego for a great clearance. It was great three points for us. I thought we were really good in the first half and even in the second half, it was some of the best football this season.

"We need performances like today [to finish the season strongly. Not for the 70 but for the 90, they are capable of that. Some of the football they played today was great, the body language, the energy of the team and the chances created. I am just disappointed that we didn’t win by more.”

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