John Kennedy: Celtic can attract quality signings club need

Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy ) promotes the club's summer soccer schools with Max Murray (aged 5, left) and Orla Currie (aged 7).
Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy ) promotes the club's summer soccer schools with Max Murray (aged 5, left) and Orla Currie (aged 7).
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Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy insists his club “won’t lose any sleep” over missing out on the capture of Scotland’s Young Player of the Year David Turnbull.

Having rejected personal terms offered by Celtic, the 19-year-old midfielder is now in talks with Norwich City after the English Premier League newcomers matched the £3.25 million fee 
Motherwell agreed with the Scottish champions for him last week.

Kennedy, who has urged Celtic supporters not to become anxious over the absence of any new signings so far this summer, is confident alternative transfer targets will be secured in time to help Neil Lennon’s squad through their Champions League qualifying campaign.

“I definitely believe we can attract the calibre of signings we need,” said Kennedy. “Everyone knows who Celtic 
is and we can’t compete with the big money in England, but we can compete with other European clubs. It’s also not just about 
talent – players coming here need to have the right mindset.

“We were obviously interested in David, whom we rate very highly. He’s done very well at Motherwell and everything had been agreed between the clubs. It all came down to a difference between the player’s representative and the club because the offer we made him was fair – it was extremely good, actually, for a player at that stage of his career.

“What we want is for players to be hungry and we also want them to come here for the right reasons, not just financially, and for a 19-year-old with less than a full season for Motherwell under his belt, the offer we made was very good. The reality is that, if players come here and do well, then they’ll be amply rewarded as the years progress. That’s the way we saw it and we gave David the spiel about how we work here and how we nurture players and where they go from here. If you do well at Celtic, the world is your oyster and that’s what we wanted to give him but they chose not to take it.

“The problem nowadays is that some players want everything given to them before they’ve achieved anything.

“For us, we have a structure to work to, so we just move on to the next target because we don’t put all of our eggs in one basket.

“There are a number of players we’re looking at and, if one isn’t right, we’ll move on to the next one.

“It all comes down to what the player wants and what advice he’s getting from his representative. But it’s not something we’re going to lose any sleep over and the process of moving on to the next target has already begun.

“This has happened before. Other clubs have done their business earlier than us and we’ve done ours later but that’s just the way it is. You can’t force it and you can’t force things through that aren’t right for you.

“But there’s no need to panic because there’s lots of time left and there is also a lot happening behind the scenes. Work is going on and we certainly hope to have a few fresh faces in the near future. Because we need it. There is no shying away from that. We have lost some bodies and have some gaps in the squad we need to fill.”

Following the departure of head of recruitment Lee Congerton, Celtic have been linked with former Reading and West Bromwich Albion director of football Nicky 
Hammond, pictured, for that position.

“I’m aware the club are speaking to people about it and it’s a role they need to fill,” said Kennedy. But I don’t know who they are going to appoint or whether it will be soon. We’ve already got a very good scouting set-up which Neil Lennon has been working very hard alongside through the summer.”

Celtic learned their pot-ential 
second qualifying round opponents in the Champions League when the draw took place in Nyon yesterday.

If they overcome Bosnian side Sarajevo in the first qualifying round, they will face the winners of the tie between Estonian champions Nomme Kalju and Shkendija of North Macedonia.

Nomme Kalju lost to Icelandic side Stjarnan in the first qualifying round of the Europa League last season, while Shkendija were thumped 5-1 on aggregate by Rosenborg in the play-off round.

Celtic would be odds-on favourites to progress against either team and while Kennedy is focusing on Sarajevo, he welcomes the early knowledge of the next possible challenge.

“It’s good in a way to see the draws because you know what stands in front of you if you 
navigate the first round,” he added.

“We know what we have to do and the preparations we have to put in place for the qualifiers. It’s always the same when you start back.

“It’s a difficult process because this week we only have guys back in training who have had the full three-week break.

“The guys who have been on international duty and are maybe coming back from injury will join us next week.

“It’s next week before we really have everyone together and they are at different stages when you are trying to piece it all together. Really, it will be towards the end of next week before you get everyone, as a group, firing on all cylinders. We just build it up. It is something we have done numerous times so we know the preparation it 
takes for the Champions League. But it 
is always a challenge.”