Celtic: Neil Lennon ‘very confident’ Odsonne Edouard is staying
Manager expects all key players to remain at club beyond Monday’s transfer deadline
Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes Odsonne Edouard’s match-winning strike against Sarajevo to earn Europa League group stage football will guarantee the Frenchman’s presence at the club beyond the transfer window.
There has been fevered speculation throughout the summer that the 22-year-old striker could be sold before the window closes on Monday, but Lennon insists the “financial clout” the 1-0 Europa League play-off win over FK Sarajevo provides Celtic will ensure he can keep his entire squad together for an assault on all fronts.
Celtic will be in pot 1 of the seeded teams when the Europa League draw is made at lunchtime on Friday.
“I’m very confident he’ll still be here after Monday night,” said the Celtic manager, who praised his team’s “professional” and “strong” performance on a “horrendous” Zenica pitch.
“In fact, I think I’m very confident they will all still be here. We’re very strong on it, we don’t want to sell any of our players — and we don’t need to now. Maybe if we hadn’t qualified it would’ve been something the board would’ve had to look at. But, that’s not an issue for us now.”
Lennon believes his team’s response to exiting the Champions League qualifiers to Ferencvaros can lift the pall that defeat five weeks ago has cast.
“We could’ve won the game by more, but they were strong and well organised,” he said, revealing that a twisted ankle suffered by Nir Bitton early on will force the player out of Israel’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Scotland at Hampden next Thursday.
“They were better than Riga but we got better as the game went on. We’ve been playing well in recent games – that’s three clean sheets and we’ve won the last seven games in all competitions.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be in the group stages. There was massive pressure on us, but that’s all from the Ferencvaros hangover. That was a game we should’ve won. We dominated that game and lost. We only had ourselves to blame.
“So, we’ve had to suffer the last three or four weeks. But we’ve won every game since Ferencvaros and the temperament of the players has been fantastic. Now the season’s really opened up for us. I think this will spark our season.
“It was a very mature performance and I didn’t see any sign of nerves from the players. What we wanted from them at half time was a bit more aggression with our play. The goal was really well worked and Ryan [Christie] made the right decision to take the shot on because of the pitch. Anything could’ve happened on that pitch. It bounced up in front of the goalkeeper, he couldn’t hold it and Odsonne showed a great striker’s instinct to follow it in and score. It’s a huge goal from him and for the club.
“As a squad, I couldn’t be happier for them. They’ve been absolutely brilliant. Now hopefully we’ll get some big group games to look forward to. It sets the season up nicely for us as well as providing some added financial clout for the club.”
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