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Lennon unlikely to grant Watt Celtic return

TROUBLED striker Tony Watt faces crucial talks over his future with the Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

'If it's not going well, then he needs to knuckle down and make it work,' insists Lennon
'If it's not going well, then he needs to knuckle down and make it work,' insists Lennon

Watt, 19, is keen to end his loan spell at Lierse after a turbulent five months at the Belgian club, but Lennon wants the forward to see out the year-long deal. The rollercoaster nature of the Coatbridge player's term in Belgium was highlighted this week when he was heavily criticised by staff at the club and then restored to the team to score two goals in a 3-0 victory over Mechelen.

The striker, signed from Airdrie United for £80,000 in 2011, is now desperate to return to Celtic. He will spend the New Year period with his family and then speak to Lennon. "I don't know if I will return," he said of his future at Lierse. "I'll look at this again from a sporting angle, but it's not been easy to be away from my family. I have already had a conversation about it with [Lierse] technical director Tomasz Radzinski, so we will see what happens."

Lennon is convinced that the loan is the way forward for the striker whose career highlight was scoring the winner against Barcelona in the Champions League match at Celtic Park in 2012.

"I'll speak to Tony over the next week or so, see how he is feeling and what the situation is," said Lennon. "I'm not of a mind to bring him back just yet. 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."

Watt signed for the club in August but Stanley Menzo, the Lierse manager, has been critical of his attitude and his fitness since then.

However, Watt said: "I keep getting painted in a bad light, but I am a long way from home and it hasn't been easy for me."

Lennon described his player as "not a man yet" adding : "Some players take a little bit longer to mature."

He pointed out : "We wanted him to sample a different culture and a different type of football. If it's not going well, then he needs to knuckle down and make it work. The onus is on him." But he added: "Tony is a good kid."

Lennon's focus, though, is on tomorrow's match against Inverness Caledonian Thistle with Celtic still unbeaten in the SPFL Premiership.

"To go through a season [unbeaten] is virtually impossible but where we are at the minute is very pleasing," he said with Celtic 11 points clear at the top after 17 games. [But] the attitude of the players has been fantastic."

"I've got to make this team better. We've had a Champions League campaign which wasn't as good this year compared to last. But we have set the bar very very high," he said. "The only way to get better is to instil a mentality, a will-to-win and to not get beaten."

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