Noel Whelan insists that Odsonne Edouard must still “earn the right” to play for Celtic after a “mixed couple of weeks” for the striker.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Aberdeen hitman admits there is “fantastic” competition for a place to lead the Hoops’ attack with the likes of Albian Ajeti and Patryk Klimala at Parkhead.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun after the 1-0 win over Riga, Lennon confessed that the 22-year-old was “off the pace” but that he was not injured in any way.
The Hoops boss also revealed last week that the French striker had admitted he was “struggling” to make the starting XI for the game against Livingston.
Whelan insists that Edouard has got to keep his performance levels high to keep playing games for the Bhoys but admits that a player with his quality is unlikely to stay quiet for too long.
Whelan told Football Insider: “It’s been a bit of a mixed couple of weeks for him, hasn’t it? At the end of the day, you know that when a player’s got quality, they’ve got quality.
“They’ve got a big game coming up at the weekend and there’s no doubt about it, he’ll be pushing. You can’t keep a player with that star quality out for too long and he won’t be expecting to be sitting on the bench for too long either.
“Again, competition up front for places is fantastic for Celtic, you’ve got to work hard and you’ve got to earn the right. At the minute, that’s what Edouard’s going to have to do. He’s got to get himself fit and get sharp but you do know if he starts, he’s a player that will score goals.
“You can take a little bit of pace out of a player and a little bit of match fitness but that quality in front of goal never leaves you.”
Edouard has scored five goals in seven appearances this season, although three of those came as a hat-trick against Hamilton on the opening day.
Meanwhile, Ajeti has hit the ground running with four strikes in five league appearances since his move from West Ham.