Celtic manager Neil Lennon says the club are “working feverishly” to bring in a left-sided player before the transfer window shuts on Monday but he has resigned himself to the fact that the search may go to the wire.
The club have been linked with Tottenham Hotspur’s Ryan Sessegnon, Mattia de Sciglio of Juventus and Charlton’s Alfie Doughty in recent days but the Celtic boss has denied the Parkhead side are close to a deal on any of them, with Sessegnon reportedly on the verge of a loan move to Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, while De Sciglio had apparently rebuffed a switch to the Scottish champions.
Doughty remains an option but the English League One side are playing hardball.
“We are working feverishly in the background though and we do need support there,” stressed Lennon of the left side of his team. “[Boli] Bolingoli has gone and Jonny Hayes left in the summer so Greg [Taylor] is the only one who can really fill that role at the minute. He needs support so it’s the one area that we do need to strengthen.
“There will be a lot of names thrown at us over the next couple of days. And from my own experience, I know a lot of deals can be done in the last few hours of the window. You will have to watch this space.”
But if deadline day tends to be fraught, with talk of Odsonne Edouard proving an enticing target for other clubs, Lennon is not worried about losing star performers, especially now that they have been drawn in such a captivating Europa League group.
“I’m really confident we will have all our players here. Anyone who has been attracting attention, we are pretty confident now that there will be no business done going out. The only real business we want to do is [to] bring one in.
“Getting into the group stage changes the whole landscape of the season and with the quality of the teams in the group that’s something the players will relish. It’s huge for us to have that in front of us. It’s very exciting and I think it will make the players think ‘Yeah, I want to be here’.
‘We have a big season domestically and that huge challenge in front of us in Europe. That’s something not a lot of clubs can offer and things will hopefully settle down after Monday.”
Happy with the work done already during the window, he said it had been a case of “trying to get the right fit at the right price”.
“Albian [Ajeti] has been a fantastic piece of business. We are just disappointed he has had to miss out through injury but that was always a risk with him having been out for so long and not playing much football at West Ham.
“[Vasilis] Barkas is an international goalkeeper and I’m delighted with him. We had the blow of losing Fraser [Forster] but we’ve got a really good goalkeeper in who was superb on Thursday, and [David] Turnbull is a great young talent, and Shane Duffy has been immense.
“You’ve also got [Mohamed] Elyounoussi who we’ve managed to keep on and he is now starting to show some real consistent form. So, yes, business has been very good.”
The hope is that Ajeti will be fit for the Rangers game on 17 October, and Lennon says that is the best that Nir Bitton can hope for as well, despite claims from the Israeli manager that he could feature in this week’s internationals.
“That’s going to be impossible,” stated the Celtic gaffer. “His foot is in a pot at the moment to try and get the swelling down. After that there has to be a diagnosis of the damage in there, if there is any ligament damage or not. I can’t see him being fit for any of the international games and the Rangers game may be a stretch too but we won’t know until we have a proper look and get it scanned.”
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