Alan Pattullo: Neil Lennon has sympathy for Slane

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon has spoken of his frustration and sadness at the plight of Paul Slane, the former Celtic youngster who was recently in the news after photographs allegedly showing the 22-year-old in a compromising position in a hotel room in Amsterdam appeared on Twitter.

Slane has since insisted that the photos were doctored. However, the player admitted he had struggled to cope with being released by Celtic in January, following an unsuccessful loan spell at Partick Thistle, where he made only four appearances.

The winger was signed by Celtic from Motherwell just before Tony Mowbray was sacked as manager. Injury disrupted his progress but he made an appearance for Celtic as a substitute in the first game of the season, replacing Kelvin Wilson against Ross County, but did not feature again for the Parkhead side. He has since described breaking down in tears when Celtic released him in January.

“That’s not exactly true,” said Lennon. “We gave Paul the option of seeing out his contract or, if he wanted to leave, he could, and he decided to leave. He was with us for two or three years and we put him out on loan to a couple of clubs. It didn’t quite work out and he was back with us which was fine, we didn’t have a problem with it.

“I told him he had the option of staying and working on his fitness because he has had a lot of injury problems. We have looked after him and given him the best rehabilitation we could. He still has a lot to offer the game but needs to find a home. He needs to settle and start playing football consistently.”

Slane grew up in Anderston, one of Glasgow’s poorest areas, and Lennon monitored his progress after he arrived at Celtic as a teenager, after impressing at Fir Park, where he made five first-team appearances.

“He found it difficult to start with, coming to a big club and you always keep an eye out on those types,” he said. “We kept him reassured, he was doing very well and then he got a very bad injury in a bounce game. That set him back for quite a while. But he had loan spells at MK Dons and also Partick Thistle, where it didn’t quite work out for him. With his talent it should have gone well and obviously didn’t.

“He was a really hard worker, a good pro and I didn’t have a day’s problem with anything off the field,” added Lennon. “He was a sensitive boy at times, which is part of his make-up and which is fine. He is only 22 and has a lot of football ahead of him. I hope he can find a club and get playing regularly.

Lennon pointed out that he was still available if Slane wishes to talk about his recent problems. “It is frustrating and I am sure it is frustrating for him,” he said.”