Neil Lennon has dismissed any suggestion that Celtic will be preparing to make a marquee signing in the looming January transfer window – and the Hoops boss isn’t of a mind to bring in a box office name on the back of a short-term loan deal.

 

In recent seasons the Parkhead side have introduced the likes of Roy Keane, Robbie Keane and Freddie Ljunberg at this stage of a campaign, with varying degrees of impact. With Celtic well on their way to a third successive title there would be little need for any further reinforcements other than to encourage more entertainment value for season ticket holders between now and the end of the season.

 

Lennon, though, is more inclined to look to the bigger picture as he attempts to mould a team for the long-term.

 

“I don’t want to bring in any players like that because it won’t serve any purpose going forward,” said Lennon. “Any player we do bring in I would like to be permanent.” A goalscorer, though, is the priority with the Hoops boss keen to bring in a Domino99 Pkv player who could use the remaining months of the current campaign to bed into the team and therefore be up and running when the critical but early UEFA UEFA Champions League qualifiers begin.

 

“We are looking but we’ve not pushed the button on anyone yet,” Lennon said. “You know what January is like. Every day a new name will come forward. But we have plenty of options and we would hope to come out of January with a stronger squad than the one we went into it with.”

 

Lennon has been linked with a move for Dundee United’s Stuart Armstrong but would not be drawn on the player. “You’re always wary that they play well at a certain club and they come here to a different environment with different pressure they’re not used to,” Lennon said. “You don’t just look at their ability but their mental strength as well.”

 

The Parkhead manager has been linked with a number of players, the latest being South Korean midfielder Han Kook-Young of Japanese club Shonan Bellmare, who claims he has already been approached by Celtic.

 

Egyptian teenager Mahmoud Hassan, Japanese midfielder Hiroki Yamada – who had a trial period at Lennoxtown last week – Icelandic striker Alfred Finnbogason from Heerenveen and USA international forward Aron Johannsson are also believed to be on Celtic’s radar.

 

“We have made strides in trying to get one player in,” said Lennon. “We are in talks, but nothing is confirmed yet. People think we have a relatively strong squad. But we don’t. A few injuries, and we are looking pretty thin at times. The likes of Scott Brown, Virgil van Dijk, Efe Ambrose, Kris Commons and Fraser Forster have played a huge volume of games – basically a season in half a season for a lot of players.

 

“A lot of these matches have been high-intensity, pressure games, but I don’t want the players to tail off now. Hopefully we can get into the break we are taking to Turkey next month unbeaten, and come back even fresher for the second part of the season.”

 

Lennon, meanwhile, has continued to play down any chance of his side going through the SPL season unbeaten.

 

The Celtic boss has taken great satisfaction from the consistency that his side have shown domestically this season, but he is wary of predicting a whitewash.

 

“To go through a league season is virtually impossible but where we are at the minute is very pleasing,” said Lennon. “The attitude of the players has been fantastic. People will look at the Scottish game and talk about the level of competition. But I’ve got to make this season better and the only way to do that is to instil a certain mentality, a will to win and a determination to not get beat. We’ve just had a Champions League campaign which wasn’t as good this year compared to last season. But we have set the bar very, very high.” While Lennon will look to bolster his squad in January, he will not recall Tony Watt from his loan spell at Belgian club Lierse.

 

20-year-old Watt scored twice as a substitute for Lierse in their 3-0 Boxing Day derby victory over Mechelen. It was a perfect response to recent criticism of the player’s attitude from Lierse coach Stanley Menzo who had raised doubts over whether Watt would remain with his club for the rest of the season.

 

Lennon agrees that Watt has issues to address but intends to leave the Scotland Under-21 international striker where he is for the moment. “I’m not of a mind to bring him back just yet,” he said. “We’ve loaned him for the year and I’d like him to see that one out. We couldn’t put him out on loan anywhere else if he does come back, so that’s not crossed my mind.

 

“I wasn’t aware the Lierse coach has had a pop at him publicly. I’ll speak to Tony over the next week or so, see how he is feeling and what the situation is. There’s an immaturity about Tony and the reason for putting him on loan was to see life at a different place. If it’s not going well, then he needs to knuckle down and make it work. The onus is on him. “He can be a difficult boy at times but there’s no malice in him or anything like that. When he’s finished at Lierse, he will still be part of our plans for the future. There’s no question that Tony has ability. He’s raw and just needs to polish it off a bit – and polish himself off as a fully rounded figure. He’s not a man yet.”