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Lennon: Elhamed can add strength and pace to Celtic defence

The Celtic boss says he is keen to make more additions to his squad as soon as possible.

Lennon  wants more new faces.
Lennon wants more new faces. SNS Group

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has talked about the qualities that likely signing Hatem Abd Elhamed will bring to his side and says he wants more new signings to join the Israeli.

Lennon confirmed that a deal had been agreed with Hapoel Be'er Sheva for the right-back with paperwork and the player's medical still to be concluded but he believes Celtic have identified a player that will bring what he wants to the back line.

"We think he's a good player," the manager said. "He's strong defensively and comfortable on the ball. He's very quick.

"I think he'd be a good addition to the squad and the players we already have here.

"He can play at centre half as well.

"I think we're getting a good player who is hungry. People look at his age but he's a fresh 28.

"His last three seasons he's played very well at a good level and we've been very impressed with what we've seen from him."

Lennon revealed that he had asked Celtic's Israeli midfielder Nir Bitton for his take on Elhamed before making a bid and that he had consulted others while doing his research on the full-back.

"We leaned on a few people," he said. "I spoke to [former Celtic midfielder] Beram Kayal and a few other people I know from within Israeli football and they all spoke very highly of him.

"We've done very well with Israel-based players over the years if you think of Bitton, Kayal, Ambrose. I got a good goalkeeper into Hibs in Marciano. It's been a decent market for us."

Elhamed's transfer won't be completed before the deadline for the Champions League second qualifying round against Nomme Kalju but Lennon is hoping that he can bring in more new faces as quickly as possible. He's targeting another right-back and then aims to bring in another attacker but he said that the transfer market was tough to negotiate and that the club were working hard to ensure value for money.

"Considering how it was four or five years ago in my first spell here there's no question that the market has risen rapidly, whether it be wages or transfer fees," he said.

"It's not like we haven't got money to spend but we want to spend it wisely if we can.

"Sometimes you're looking for resaleable value in a player but we've got a lot of assets in the squad already.

"We just want to get quality in at the right price and not overstretch ourselves."

One player who won't be joining is former Leicester City defender Danny Simpson. Lennon explained why a trial has been cancelled, saying other options were being targeted for the right side of defence.

"We were down the line with Elhamed and we have one or two other options so we just felt it would be futile for Danny to come in if he sees us bringing in a couple of players in his specific position," he said. "So we decided to call off the trial on Friday."

And Lennon said he hoped the club had fended off Arsenal's interest in Kieran Tierney.

He said: "It's as you were really. I've had no information other than there were two bids that came in from Arsenal that were rejected.

"There has been no further inroads into that really.

"We're in a good position. We have got no intentions of selling, he's on a long-term contract and we want him to progress with us.

"Our valuation of Kieran wasn't met and it's as simple as that.

"You will see other transfers not going through because valuations haven't been met. It's not a case of Arsenal being disrespectful.

"They put a bid in that they valued the player at. They came back again and obviously see Kieran as a very good player as we do. But on a long-term contract, we're in a very strong position when it comes to Kieran."

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