NEIL Lennon last night ruled out Lewis Morgan being sent out on loan in January and backed the Celtic winger to use his performance in the Europa League win over Rennes to kickstart his season.

Lennon sprang a major surprise in the Group E match at Parkhead on Thursday night by selecting Morgan, who hadn’t started a game in over two months, up front in the absence of the injured Odsonne Edouard.

The 23-year-old opened the scoring with a goal in the first-half and performed well throughout the 90 minutes despite playing out of position until Leigh Griffiths came on in the second-half.

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There had been speculation the former St Mirren player, who has had spells back at the Paisley club and at Sunderland since joining on a free transfer in January last year, could move to Hibernian during the transfer window.

But Lennon, whose team beat their French rivals 3-1 to top their European section for the first time, stressed that Morgan will be remaining in Glasgow and expressed hope his display will give him the self-belief he needs to flourish.

“We’re not in the mood to do that (send Morgan out on loan),” he said. “He is an important part of the squad. You can see what he brings at times, he just needs to believe in himself a little bit more and I think that performance against Rennes will do him the world of good in terms of his confidence.

“He has been showing that in training and I’m really pleased that he is able to convert that into game time. Hopefully it’s a watershed night for Morgan. He should get a lot of confidence from what he did against a good side in a big game. He has proved he has got the game and can bring something to the squad and the team when called upon. And I hope he gets a lift.

“What it does show you is his professionalism and the way he has looked after himself. What we see in training every day is what we saw the other night. Full of running, fitness levels, at times real quality. He has kept himself going really well and it’s a testament to his professionalism.”

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Lennon confirmed that his top scorer Edouard is a doubt for the Ladbrokes Premiership match against Ross County in Dingwall and reiterated that he could look to sign another striker in January

“We’ll see how he is,” he said. “We’ll take it day by day. It’s just a little niggle he’s got, a little break of the skin around a muscle. It’s touch and go whether he’ll be fit for the weekend.

“We’ve got Griffiths there and hopefully he won’t be a million miles away. Again, we’re softly softly with him at the minute. (Vakoun) Bayo is not a million miles away from returning to training.

“It’s an area we may need to bolster. It’s something we’ll look at in January. But we’ll see.”