EVIDENCE that Paul Slane's career is in its infancy comes from the fact he got more coverage for going into an alcoholic meltdown than for anything he's done so far on a football field.

To recap, the 21-year-old was all over Twitter last month after pictures were posted seemingly showing him with a prostitute during a drunken trip to Amsterdam. The grainy, sordid images went viral, if that's not an unfortunate term to use in the circumstances.

The sniggering continued when it emerged that Slane was so drunk he had not realised he was heading to the Netherlands in the first place, having boarded a flight from Glasgow which he thought was heading to Tenerife. That would explain why he was wearing flip-flops as the snow came down in the Dutch capital. The underlying explanation was no laughing matter. A few days later Slane said he had pretty much gone through some sort of breakdown. He started drinking heavily, couldn't handle it, and was told by his mother to "get a grip". The origin of his tailspin was being told in January that he was free to leave Celtic. He was in tears, he claimed, when manager Neil Lennon broke the news to him.

Lennon himself took not the slightest pleasure in telling Slane he could leave if he wished – the option of staying on was also available – nor in the lurid coverage of the Amsterdam episode. He knows Slane well. The little winger was signed from Motherwell on a four-year contract in February 2010, the month before Lennon took over. At no point did he cause any grief. "He was a hard worker, a good pro, and I didn't have a day's problem with anything off the field," said Lennon. "He was a sensitive boy at times, which is part of his make-up. That is fine but he is only 21 and he has a lot of football ahead of him. I hope he can find a club and get playing on a regular basis."

Slane was impressing in Europa League games for Motherwell in the summer of 2009, nearly four years ago. Despite subsequent loan spells at MK Dons and Partick Thistle he has yet to make the impression his talent promises. His sole appearance for Celtic came as a late substitute for Kelvin Wilson in a draw at Ross County at the start of this season.

"I am sure it is frustrating for him," Lennon went on. "Sometimes these things happen. It is not just talent that makes a footballer; it is the personality, the temperament and the mental strength as well. You need all those ingredients to progress at a club as big as this. At 21, 22, there's still a bit of growing to do, finding his niche in life and in the game. I hope he will find it."

Telling Slane he could leave Celtic in January, a year before his contract was due to expire, was handled as sensitively as possible by Lennon. That did not make it any less distressing for Slane nor any less unpleasant for the manager. "It didn't quite work out for him. Given his talent it should have went well. He found it difficult to start with, coming to a big club and you always keep an eye out on those types. We kept him reassured, he was doing very well and then he got a bad injury in a bounce game. That set him back for quite a while.

"When it came to January, we had a chat with him and told him that he could stay and work with the development side, but he is better than that level. We gave Paul the option of seeing out his contract or if he wanted to leave he could and he decided to do that.

"There always comes a time when you have to sit down with players and say 'look, we are going to give you a new contract, we think you're doing well', or 'we think it's best for you to move on.' I didn't exactly tell Paul he had to move on. I told him he had the option of staying and working on his fitness because he has had a lot of injury problems.

"We have looked after him and given him the best rehabilitation that we could. He still has a lot to offer the game but he needs to find a home. He needs to settle and start playing football consistently. But I'll try to help him if he ever needs it. I'm always here for any players that move on."