Celtic are getting ready to unleash Jonathan Afolabi after blowing Neil Lennon and his coaching staff away in training and youth-team games, Football Insider has learned.
The Republic of Ireland youth international, 19, scored twice for Celtic reserves this week as they defeated Albion Rovers 3-0 at the Reigart Stadium in front of the watching Lennon.
A Celtic source has told Football Insider that the manager is considering whether to unleash Afolabi into the first team ahead of the international break.
The Hoops are without the suspended Vakoun Bayo and injured Leigh Griffiths for their Europa League clash at home to Cluj tomorrow night.
It leaves Odsonne Edouard as the only available senior orthodox centre-forward, although Lennon has the option of using one of his wide players down the middle.
The northern Irishman may feel it is too early tomorrow for Afolabi, who joined in the summer on a three-year contract after running down his Southampton deal.
But the manager is getting excited about the potential of the teenage striker, and believes he can offer a different dimension to the attack.
The Celtic coaching staff have been working behind the scenes at their Lennoxtown base on building up Afolabi’s fitness following his protracted exit from Southampton.
They believe he is raw and needs to work on his link-up play and movement, but he has the eye for goal and physicality to bridge the gap between youth and senior football.
The source explained that Afolabi made up his mind to leave the Saints at the start of the year after feeling he had outgrown Under-23s football.
He scored nine goals in 31 matches for the Premier League club at age-group level and is now starting to find his feet at Celtic.