Teemu Pukki has proven himself as a top-class striker and will do the same at Celtic if given time, according to his international manager, Mixu Paatelainen.

Finland manager Paatelainen admits he is surprised that Pukki has not made more of an impact at Parkhead following his move from Schalke in August.

The former HJK Helsinki striker, who was signed by the Germans in 2011 after impressing against them in the Europa League, has only scored three goals in 21 appearances for Celtic.

Loading article content

But Paatelainen feels that Celtic manager Neil Lennon is the right man to get the best out of the 23-year-old.

The former Hibernian and Kilmarnock manager said: "It has been a sticky start but he has all the attributes to make it happen.

"He has scored goals for Finland against top nations in the the world like Spain and he can score goals for Celtic. There is no question about that.

"It has been a slow start but I know that he can do it. How long it takes for him to start producing it is a question.

"At a top club like Celtic there is not too much time before the verdict is out. But one thing for sure is that he can do it."

Lennon has made no secret of his desire to sign a striker in January despite moving for Pukki and Amido Balde in the summer, with the Portuguese having made less of an impact in Scotland.

Pukki admitted at the weekend that it might be next season before he hits top form for Celtic after getting little time to work with his new team-mates on the training ground in between games, although he will have this week in Turkey to help him as Celtic embark on their mini winter-break.

And Paatelainen did not expect him to take so long to settle.

"I am a little bit surprised because I know he can do it and he has done it," the former Dundee United, Aberdeen and Hibs striker said.

"But I also realise that it doesn't always happen when you change a club. Something a little different about the way the team plays or the way you are asked to play, it might not click straight away.

"I know from the way Neil Lennon speaks about Teemu, he understands the situation and he understands the type of personality Teemu is, and I think that's very important in any case.

"Teemu is in good hands with Neil Lennon and Celtic and I am sure he will turn the corner."

Pukki has been working on his physique after finding the style of Scottish football difficult.

Paatelainen, who was at Hampden for a two-day Pro Licence event organised by the Scottish Football Association, added: "Teemu is not naturally strong or physical so he would benefit from that.

"Of course you have to make sure it's done in the right way and not make him too bulky so that he loses his sharpness and his pace.

"The game doesn't change wherever you are. Strikers' movement is more or less the same, what you have to do.

"I'm sure, given time, Celtic together with Teemu will gel."