\"Celtic

Celtic boss Neil Lennon with the Scottish Premier League trophy. Photo by: Google Images

Kazakh champions headache for Celtic’s Neil Lennon

\"Celtic

Celtic boss Neil Lennon with the Scottish Premier League trophy. Photo by: Google Images

Celtic faces an 8,000 mile trip to keep their European Cup dream alive after they were paired with Shakhter Karagandy in the Champions League playoffs.

Manager Neil Lennon has admitted the Bhoys face a “logistical nightmare” and is struggling to get someone over to watch the Kazakh champions before the first leg next week.
 
Lennon said, “The draw is a bit of an unknown one for us. Logistically it will be a nightmare in terms of traveling.
 
“It could have been kinder but it could have been tougher as well. It will be impossible for me to go and watch them, but hopefully we’ll have some representation over there.”
 
Lennon’s side beat Liverpool 1-0 in a Dublin friendly before a sell-out Aviva Stadium.
 
New signing Amido Balde scored the only goal of the game, and Lennon was quick to praise the summer signing from Vitoria Guimaraes.
 
Lennon said, “He was immense. I thought he gave Kolo Toure and Andre Wisdom all sorts of problems. He was aggressive, strong and took his goal well. He gave us a platform to play off of.
 
“He’s a different type of striker to the others we have. We haven’t really had a physical presence since Chris Sutton and John Hartson and sometimes you need it in the British game when the pitches rough up.
 
“He’s raw, he knows he has a lot of work to do but he has got some great attributes.”
 
Anthony Stokes was appointed Celtic captain for the day on his return to Dublin.  Lennon is adamant the player, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has a future with the club.
Lennon said, “We made him an offer and he did turn that initial offer down. We are hoping to go back to him again, he’s an important player.
 
“The loss of Gary Hooper to Norwich makes him more important within the squad. He’s a talented player, he’s weighed in with a lot of important goals.
 
“I am hoping for a big season for him. He rehabbed really well, he came back strong and finished the season well. He’s an important player in the squad.”
 
Ireland striker Kevin Doyle remains unlikely to join Celtic however after Wolves turned down two offers from the Scottish champions.
 
Lennon added, “He’s a player we tried to get in January. Now, the situation is changed. That was then, this is now.
 
“He’s a player we’ve admired for a long time. He is contracted to Wolves. We’ve expressed an interest in the player.”
 
Defender Kevin Wilson has returned to Nottingham Forest after two years at Celtic.

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