Freddie Ljungberg can be new Celtic king, says Lennon

THE ability to keep his head when others are losing theirs is just one of the qualities Neil Lennon admires in Freddie Ljungberg. It's a trait which could come in handy in this weekend's Old Firm clash but there are no guarantees that a deal will be done by then, according to the Celtic manager.

• Freddie Ljungberg has impressed Celtic manager Neil Lennon while training at Lennoxtown since arriving in Glasgow on Sunday Picture: SNS

Short-termism is the key to everything at Celtic at the moment, with Lennon refusing to look beyond this evening's match against Motherwell and it is the same mindset when it comes to signing targets. This time they don't necessarily have to come with a long-term warranty. He looked to the future with his summer signings and when the window closed he had a burgeoning squad but has since lamented the lack of aged campaigners at his disposal.

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The emphasis this time is on old heads who can play a mentoring role while also offering the club a much-needed quick return for their investment, and that means the league title. Which is why it is the experienced Ljungberg and Dwayne De Rosario who are being given the once over at Lennoxtown this week.

"I think that would be fair to say," said the Celtic manager, pinpointing David Weir as an example of how age is no barrier, while also reminding those gathered that he had been 33 himself when he played in Celtic's Uefa Cup final in Seville. "We brought in the likes of (Baram] Kayal, (Efrain] Juarez and (Joe] Ledley and that was not a short-term thing, that was development for the next few years, but you also want a couple of kings in the team that can talk others through it at times and we just lack that."

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The last man to earn that moniker for services rendered in the hoops, was the King of Kings, Henrik Larsson, and the fact his countryman was wearing the No 7 training kit which is associated with the Parkhead legend when he was put through his paces with the first-team squad yesterday has some fans hoping that there is a new pretender to the throne.

They are not the only ones. Refusing to get too carried away with the hypotheticals, Lennon has been happy with the former Arsenal midfielder's input and, having seen him on the training ground, is adamant that at 33 he still possesses the skill and fitness required to trouble SPL opposition and galvanise his title challengers.

"Oh, yeah of course. You see it straight away. The pitch was a bog because of the adverse weather yet his first touch was very sharp. The players were saying how good he was. Henrik Larsson came here a few weeks ago and you could see what a good player he still is. Freddie has put down that marker too."

The greater commodity may yet be his ability to keep the jangling nerves from undermining the younger squad members. Anxiety has been evident in recent Celtic performances.After a run of draws, the nervousness from the stands has been transmitted to the players and, although his team got back to winning ways on Sunday, Lennon still craves a big-game player on the pitch to help quell the jitters as the Parkhead side battle it out with Rangers for the SPL trophy.

"(With his] experience, he might bring a calmness to the team. You could see (on Monday] he was quite willing to talk to the young players. He was talking during games, talking during training. Experience brings that to you. You recognise moments in games and know what to do more than young players. You can take the sting out of games at times. The one thing we are lacking is that bit of nous. There is no doubt about that.

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"I think the fact that he is here and his agency contacted us shows he is pretty serious about it. Whether we can get a deal done is another matter. We hope so and I think he's liked what he's seen."

The plan was to have a lengthy chat with the player yesterday to gauge his thoughts. But he is not the only player being tracked, with De Rosario, 32, also on a week's trial. "He is a little bit like Maloney in his play," said Lennon. "He likes to come off the left on his right foot, he is a skilful player. He has a bit of quality about him and we will have a look." But he was more non-committal when it came to Tottenham midfielder Nico Kranjcar, long-term target Ivan Ramis and fellow defender, Nottingham Forrest's Kelvin Wilson.

"We are going to get linked with a lot of players," he said, maintaining he'd had no contact with anyone regarding those three but revealing that the club were working behind the scenes to secure deals involving at least another two players.

"We are looking for experience and a bit of quality as well. Having said that I am not overly unhappy. I know I am throwing up a statistic but we have conceded less goals than anyone else in the league. It can't be all bad but you can obviously improve the side and the defence is an area and the top of the pitch as well."

But he would like the constant transfer chatter to serve as motivation for the current squad. They play host to Motherwell this evening aware that victory would take them above Rangers whose match against St Johnstone has been postponed.

"That is the incentive," he said. "We are just thinking about winning the game and trying to win it well and take a bit of momentum into Sunday."

They will have to do it without their South Korean duo of Cha Du Ri and Ki Sung-Yueng though, with Mark Wilson and Joe Ledley expected to slot back in tonight.