Exclusive: Lennon 'does not trust' Celtic player who's sparkled in last two displays

By Wayne Veysey

Neil Lennon has no plans to revert back to a Celtic central midfield partnership of Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham, Football Insider understands.

The manager has made Brown and Callum McGregor his first choice pairing in the middle of the pitch after growing frustrated at Ntcham’s lack of defensive nous and responsibility.

A Celtic source has told Football Insider that Lennon “does not trust” Ntcham to track runners and provide the energy needed to complement Brown’s positional excellence and game awareness.

The Northern Irishman believes Ntcham is far more effective in a more advanced midfield role where he has less defensive responsibility and can help create and score goals.

The Frenchman, 23, has made only four starts this season among 11 appearances but made a big impact coming off the bench in the midweek 1-1 draw at Rennes as well as in the 2-0 SPL triumph against Rangers at Ibrox.

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Ntcham was used almost as a second striker in the Europa League clash in France on Thursday, and Lennon believes this is a position that suits him far better.

He was recruited from Manchester City for £4.5million in the summer of 2017 and that looked a bargain fee in an impressive debut campaign alongside Brown in central midfield.

But the Frenchman lost his regular starting place last season and was regularly omitted from the team for marquee fixtures, by both Lennon and ex-boss Brendan Rodgers.

He pushed hard for a summer Hoops exit after growing unsettled in Scotland but no club were willing to pay Celtic’s asking price.

In other Celtic news, it can be REVEALED that the club have opened preliminary talks over £1.3million deal.