The bond the pair developed when the midfielder spent five months on loan at Easter Road for the second half of 2017/18 meant he was made aware of it a “few months ago”.
But it is no less upsetting for Lennon because of his regard for the 29-year-old, a man who has to deal with diabetes in a career of many ups and down. Lennon witnessed some highs first hand – a penalty earned for a win at Ibrox and a strike in a derby success at Leith as the club claimed their highest league finish since 1971.
“It’s obviously something that’s very alarming,” said the Celtic manager. “He’s a great kid and a great player. His health comes first and I hope he comes through this and he’s managed and looked after the right way by medical people wherever he plays. But it’s very shocking and of great concern to me personally because I worked with him and I know what a good lad he is.
“It’s very, very tough. I had him for four or five months at Hibs and he was fantastic. He was a brilliant player for me and I really enjoyed working with him. He loves his football, he’s another player who has a great appetite for the game and is easy to manage. I’m in contact with him now and again, I’m very close to him and you want him to be healthy and well going forward.”