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SALES TALK: SUTTON’S ADVICE TO LENNON

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CELTIC legend Chris Sutton has urged former team-mate Neil Lennon to sign at least FOUR new players before the new Premiership campaign kicks off a week tomorrow.

The Hoops will launch their bid for a record-breaking 10 successive titles when Hamilton Accies visit for Flag Day at Parkhead.

Sutton is convinced his old club need to strengthen if they are to achieve their ambitions at home and abroad.

However, the ex-goal hero has obviously grown tired of the Fraser Forster will-he-or-won’t-he saga that has been ongoing throughout the summer.

Lennon obviously thought the fans’ favourite would be returning across the border either on a permanent or temporary switch after last season’s highly-successful loan period from Southampton.

However, with the six times-capped England international shotstopper still having two years of a £90,000-per-week contract to run, the proposed deal now looks dead in the water.

Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “We’ve tired our tongues out about the goalkeeping situation.

“Fraser Forster’s change of heart caused a problem that they thought had been solved. Scott Bain is a fine back-up keeper, but he’s not a trophy-winner, in my eyes.

THE No.1 PROBLEM…Fraser Forster stalled on expected Hoops return.

“Ideally, Celtic will have this situation sorted out shortly and then there are a number of outfield issues.

“Centre-back needs to be addressed. What if something happens to Christopher Jullien or Kristoffer Ajer?

“There’s no back-up there and if Lennon wants to use the 3-5-2 system, as I suspect he will at various times during the campaign, there needs to be an addition to go alongside Hatem Abd Elhamed.

“I like Nir Bitton and he’s okay covering part-time, but at Champions League level and with Jozo Simunovic leaving, a proper centre-back needs brought in.

“Left-back is another area. I still can’t understand why Jonny Hayes was allowed to go because Boli Bolingoli just isn’t going to cut it at Celtic, I’m afraid.

“Greg Taylor looked neat and tidy in France and could make the jump forward, but that’s not assured and who is there if anything happens to him?”

Sutton, now a top pundit at BT Sport, continued: “Midfield is good so long as no-one leaves. For example, it would be madness to sell Olivier Ntcham, despite the interest in him. He’s a valuable member of the set-up.

“Celtic don’t have to panic. And I’m not saying they aren’t equipped to get off and running this season.

“But I am saying they don’t have enough right at this moment to guarantee maintaining their grip on the Scottish game and making a splash in Europe if they don’t add properly to the group – and it’s approaching crunch time.

SIGNS ARE GOOD…Mohamed Elyounoussi nets one of his two goals in the 5-2 Betfred League Cup semi-final against Hibs in November.

“Mohamed Elyounoussi is an outstanding signing with the ability to have a hugely positive influence.

“But I find it almost inconceivable the Norwegian international might be the only new arrival by the time their Premiership campaign kicks off. Neil Lennon is going to need more than him in the door – much more.

“By my reckoning he needs at least four more signings and that’s without anyone leaving the building.

“Elyounoussi is a great one to get. It’s easy to forget the influence he had on the side for an impressive spell last season before injury basically finished his campaign by December.

“When he got his fitness up to top level he was dynamite at times. He has real football intelligence to come in off the side, can work in tight areas centrally and has energy.

“The eye for a goal was shown by seven in eight games last term and he also creates openings for team-mates.

“Turning 26 in under a fortnight, Elyounoussi should be right at the peak of his powers and Celtic have got a real matchwinner on their hands to complement the likes of Ryan Christie and James Forrest in the creative department to back up Odsonne Edouard. ”

WALKING A TIGHTROPE…Leigh Griffiths is at the Celtic crossroads.

Sutton added: “Then there is this new issue brought about by the unprofessionalism of Leigh Griffiths.

“Before he was dropped from the squad for being overweight, I felt another striker may have been needed because I have not seen enough yet from Patryk Klimala or Vakoun Bayo to convince me they are up to the job.

“Griffiths might take the warning shot from Lennon and save his career, but I just couldn’t trust him any more. Simple as that.

“Celtic are going to have to go out and get someone in the door who can step into the side and deliver. I know it’s not easy getting a proven scorer in the current climate without paying big bucks but what if something happens to Edouard?

“It’s absolutely unthinkable where that would leave Lennon. In any case, the Frenchman can’t play 60 games this season without losing edge at some point. He needs help and Griffiths can’t be trusted to provide it.”

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Editor

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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