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Celtic have firepower aplenty

I honestly don't think there is any desperate rush for Celtic to go out and sign a striker.

At 22, Amido Balde is not the finished article but there are signs he can do a job for Celtic Photograph: SNS
At 22, Amido Balde is not the finished article but there are signs he can do a job for Celtic Photograph: SNS

I know their fans will say they need to go and get somebody in now so that he has six months to settle in and be ready to go when the Champions League qualifiers begin in July. But while something might happen during January, what is the panic?

The league, as we all know, is over. Celtic are going to win it, and they will have no more European football till the summer. I know Georgios Samaras looks like he is going to go, which might leave them one short up front, but the Greece international has not been playing as an out-and-out striker anyway - it has usually been Anthony Stokes and Kris Commons, or Teemu Pukki and Commons.

During this transfer window it is often hard to find real quality, because teams are desperate to keep their star players. People panic in January and you sometimes don't get the targets you are looking for. So I wouldn't be panicking and I don't think Neil Lennon will be.

It is often said you could combine the fees for Pukki and Amido Balde to bring in one really top striker but both of them showed that they do have something to offer with their goals in the 3-1 friendly win against Trabzonspor at the Antalya Winter Cup in Turkey.

Of course the ideal scenario when you sign somebody is that they take to it immediately. They hit the ground running and start banging in goals. Look no further than Alvaro Negredo at Manchester City, who has come in to a huge club full of top players - it hasn't taken him six months to acclimatise. Real quality handles itself.

But it doesn't always work that way, especially when you are dealing with younger players. Pukki is 23 and Balde just 22, and we have to take that into account. I was 30, nearly 31, when I went to Rangers.

OK, so they still should maybe be doing better than they, but when you are signing potential, sometimes it can take a while.

I definitely still think the Finn will do a job at Celtic. There is no doubt he has quality: his touch, movement and game awareness are good, and I can see Pukki scoring goals even if he has been going through a barren spell. For whatever reason, they haven't come after he scored his first in his first match against Hearts but there could be loads of reasons for that. I would compare him to Stokes - they both like to drop deep and then get into the box.

Balde, on the other hand, clearly has to fine-tune a few things. His game awareness isn't the greatest but you have to say that he has chipped in when he has been involved. He is also totally different from anything Celtic have in terms of being a target man.

I don't expect him to see a cute pass inside a full-back, a lay-off or a dink from him, but his attributes are winning flick-ons, holding the ball up, keeping it basic and getting into the box - and he will score from there.

The market Celtic are in is paying money for good players who, with a bit of coaching, could become great players and these two fit the bill.

But the biggest thing of all they need is confidence. You can tell theirs is down a bit, that they are not absolutely sure of themselves. Although the break Neil Lennon currently has his players on is pressure free - a wee bounce game or tournament in Turkey is not a domestic match where you have to win and there is a real edge to it - it will still help them.

Getting a couple of goals - particularly if they can display some good finishing in the process - is only going to help their confidence, and that is something they have struggled with. They deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Having said all that, the fact Celtic have opted out of their fixture against Kilmarnock to play in Turkey isn't just strange, it is a bit of an embarrassment.

Can you see Manchester City saying they weren't taking their fixture against Newcastle this weekend because they were away to play in a friendly tournament somewhere? The SPFL might say the option was available to everybody but there was only ever one team who were going to benefit.

With all due respect, no-one is going to pay to take Ross County or Partick to a tournament abroad. Celtic held all the cards when it came to the merger of the leagues in the summer, but never in all my years in Scottish football have I seen anything like it. It makes our game a laughing stock.

AS a childhood Rangers fan, I grew up idolising Ian Redford, so I was absolutely shocked when I learned of his death at the age of 53 on Friday.

I can still remember the strip he wore, with the red, white and blue collar. Like Davie Cooper, he had a left foot like a wand, and he just used to drift past defenders, though neither was a flying machine.

Whether it was helping Dundee United to the 1987 Uefa Cup final, or winning the Coca-Cola Cup with Raith Rovers in 1994, he had success wherever he went.

It is amazing to think he never won a full cap. Cooper's death shocked me and this one is right up there too. My thoughts are with his family.

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