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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: LENNON’S CELTIC SQUAD REVEAL, VAN DIJK’S HULL ‘ESCAPE’, IBROX CHIEF QUITS, MORTON BOSS BANNED

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NEIL LENNON has admitted he is pleased with the Celtic squad he has assembled after bringing in a clutch of new players before the transfer deadline at the start of this month.

But the Hoops has revealed he will be looking to make additions when the window re-opens after the turn of the year.

As Lennon prepared for this afternoon’s fifth Premiership encounter of the campaign against Hamilton Accies he told the Daily Record: “I think there is a good structure, but but I always like to do a bit in January.

“There’s depth now. What that does to the boys who are already here is it gives them a jab of energy when they see the quality coming in and the experience and professionalism of some of the players we’ve brought in.

“They’re seeing some of the new boys settling now and feeling a part of it. You can’t do it without that core group.

“We’ve got a couple of decent loans and a couple of younger ones in Jeremie Frimgpong and Lee O’Connor.

“Hopefully, that augers well for the future as they look like two very good players.

“They’ve already added to the energy of the squad. Coming onto this period, we’re in a good place.”

Lennon brought in £16 million striker Mohamed Elyounoussi on a season-long loan from Southampton before his eleventh-hour £2.25million move for Kilmarnock’s Scotland international left-back Greg Taylor.

Austrian right-back Moritz Bauer also arrived on a temporary transfer from Stoke City until the end of the campaign with the champions going for nine in a row.

Keeper Fraser Forster is also back in the fold after leaving on a £10million switch to Southampton five years ago. He, too, agreed a loan contract.

The Parkhead gaffer also spent £7million on centre-back Christopher Jullien from Toulouse, £3million on left-back Boli Bolingoli from Rapid Vienna and Hatem Abd Elhamed from Hapoel Be’er Sheva before the kick-off.

Teenagers Luca Connell (Bolton) and Jonathan Abolafi (Southampton) joined with Lennon looking to the future.

VIRGIL VAN DIJK would have missed out on the opportunity of winning a Champions League medal with Liverpool if Newcastle manager Steve Bruce had had his way.

The much-travelled gaffer has evealed he wanted to sign the classy Holland centre-half from Celtic while he was boss at Hull City.

Bruce, who was sacked by Aston Villa and had a short spell at Sheffield Wednesday before taking over from Rafa Benitiez at St James’s Park, told The Guardian: “Virgil van Dijk: wow, what a player!

“We all know how good Liverpool are up front, but signing him and keeper Alisson gave Liverpool the backbone they needed, just took them to the next level.

“I could have taken him [Van Dijk] to Hull. I had dinner with Kenny Dalglish and the owner of Celtic, Dermot Desmond, in Barbados – I’m name-dropping now – and Desmond was waxing lyrical about the best players he’s had.

“He was saying: ‘Henrik Larsson is definitely, definitely the best I’ve seen play for Celtic in my ownership, but what I can’t understand is nobody has gone for Van Dijk.’

“I thought: ‘That’s interesting, he’s seen a lot of football over the last 12 years,’ so I tried to get him before he went to Southampton, but I had no chance.”

Van Dijk, of course, joined the Anfield side for a-then world record fee for a defender of £75million and was pivotal to Jurgen Klopp’s side conquering Europe last season.

The former Celt picked up the European Footballer of the Year earlier this month.

MARK ALLEN has quit as Director of Football as Rangers after two years at Ibrox.

He joined the club in summer 2017 and was instrumental in hiring Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard as manager and recruiting £7million Ryan Kent from the Anfield outfit, the second-most expensive signing in their history following £12million Tore Andre Flo.

Gerrard, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mark for the incredible support he has shown me and all my staff since I came to the club 16 months ago.

“Mark’s success here is evident for all to see and we would all like to wish him well moving forward.”

Allen remarked: “It has been a privilege to work for Rangers, one of the biggest clubs in football with such a phenomenal fan base, and I’ve loved every minute.

“Bringing Steven Gerrard to the club will always be a special point in my career and I would like to thank him, the players and all the excellent staff at Rangers for their support.

“My greatest wish is for Rangers to start winning trophies again and I wish them the very best for the future.”

Managing director Stewart Robertson said: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Mark for his work.

“We are disappointed to lose him, but we appreciate the impact he made here and he leaves Rangers in a better place than when he arrived.”

DAVID HOPKIN has been handed a three-match ban despite claims he was manhandled by an official against Hibs last month.

The Morton boss was sent from the dug-out in the 5-3 Betfred League Cup defeat at Easter Road after clashing with fourth official Kevin Graham.

Cappielow chief executive David MacKinnon claimed Graham had already been “confrontational” with Hopkin before he ordered him from the touchline after the Ton gaffer appealed for a foul in the lead up to their opponents’ fourth goal.

The SFA chiefs reviewed the case and hit Hopkin with an immediate two-game ban, with a further one match suspended until the end of the season.

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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