Balde set to have real impact at Celtic: Lennon

28 October 2013 06:01

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has backed Amido Balde to play a big part for the club after he came off the bench to bag the winner in a 2-1 Glasgow derby victory over Partick Thistle on Sunday.

In their first meeting in nine years Georgios Samaras was left unmarked to head Celtic into a 34th minute lead from Emilio Izaguirre's corner before Kris Doolan levelled at Firhill in the 67th minute.

However, Balde was immediately brought on and the striker scored a fine solo effort seven minutes later that cements Celtic's position at the top of the table.

It was a rare appearance for the 22-year-old, who had made just one start since signing on at Parkhead from Vitoria Guimaraes in the summer.

But after grabbing his second goal for the Glasgow giants Lennon has tipped him to make more of an impact in the weeks ahead.

"I was trying to get Amido Balde on before they scored but thankfully we got him on eventually and he scored a brilliant goal," he said.

"That'll do him the world of good and it was fantastic for us.

"We know where he is and he knows where he is in terms of his development. He's going to play a lot more now as the season progresses.

"We are just working away with him in training. He's had to be patient but you can see the attributes that he has.

"He's still got a bit of work to do in terms of his hold up play but he's definitely got goals in him and he gives us a different dimension when he plays."

Balde's chances may be boosted by Celtic's growing injury list. Lennon's side ended the match with 10 men, after Samaras limped off injured when the visitors had used all of their substitutes.

Izaguirre was earlier stretchered off after the full-back suffered a head-knock.

"He's obviously got a bit of concussion. He got a bang to the head making a fantastic block at a crucial stage of the game," Lennon said.

"It's always a worry and he looked a bit wobbly on the legs and it was a major concern. He's okay but he may be a doubt for the weekend.

"Samaras has a deep gash on his knee which is being stitched up so again he'll be a doubt for the weekend.

"We're patched up at the minute and we were down to 10 men with 10 or 11 minutes of the game to go.

"Hopefully Charlie Mulgrew, Derk Boerrighter and James Forrest will be back. We missed a little bit of width in the team today and that's just through bad luck more than anything else.

"If we get those three back in for next week that will give us a little more dynamism going forward."

He was delighted to see his side continue their unbeaten start to the campaign as they bid to make it three league titles in a row.

But he was unhappy at the failure to convert some of their numerous chances which would have made the win a lot more comfortable.

"They had to dig it out in the end. We were sloppy at times with our finishing and we should have been out of sight at half time," Lennon admitted.

"I think Scott Fox has made three great one-on-one saves - from Stokes and twice from Pukki - and at 1-0 Partick Thistle were always in the game and they're a good team.

Source: AFP