NEIL LENNON has paid tribute to Odsonne Edouard who has taken over the mantle of Celtic main striker in the past 15 months.
At the age of 20, the Frenchman was pitchforked into the leading position in the firing squad following his compatriot Moussa Dembele’s £19.8million exit for Lyon in August last year.
Edouard had to pick up the gauntlet on behalf of the champions when Leigh Griffiths came out of the first-team picture in December due to personal issues.
The Scotland international, who could get the chance to make his first appearance for the top side in this afternoon’s Premiership encounter with Livingston at Parkhead, has not been seen since a 12-minute substitute’s appearance against Hearts on August 25.
Lennon’s hopes Ivorian hitman Vakoun Issouf Bayo may lighten the load of Edouard, but he is now sidelined through injury and could be out for the remainder of the year.
Edouard has scored 13 goals in 24 games for the Hoops this season and another 11 in seven outings for the France Under-21s. However, the Irishman admitted he is reluctant to reduce the workload who will lead the line today.
FRENCH SERVICE…Odsonne Edouard on international duty.
Lennon, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “The great players all play. They go away with their countries, Messi was in Saudi Arabia playing for Argentina, Firmino, Mane, Salah are the same.
“They play Champions League and Premier League every week. Eventually, you want to give them a break when we feel it’s necessary, but at the minute there’s no need to.
“He’s one injury away, but everybody is, whether it be in training or games. He’s in brilliant form, so he’s playing.
“You look at it and if you’re reasonably comfortable in the game with 10/15 minutes to go you give him a breather, but I want him to lead the line as long as he wants.
“He does it very well. One of my staff said he talks to you with his eyes, he doesn’t give much away. You don’t know whether he’s happy or sad, but in the main he’s happy.
“Odsonne scored another couple for France. It was something people maybe said he didn’t do enough of in previous years, score goals.
“But he’s hit the ground running this season. It’s not just his goals, his all-round game’s fantastic. He’s great to watch, he looks really strong, which is down to confidence.”