Neil Lennon's comments on Celtic winger Scott Sinclair are intriguing

By David Walton

July 31, 2019

Has Neil Lennon effectively hinted that Scott Sinclair isn’t a first-choice winger anymore?

The Hoops boss was defending his English talent last night amid rumours of a potential exit. Lenny stated after defeating Nomme Kalju 2-0 that he was keen to keep Sinclair. The former Manchester City man came on during the closing stages but struggled to get into the contest.

In what was a real positive night for Celtic, Sinclair’s form is one of the only negatives going. Reports of a rejected move to Preston on loan didn’t look great as the Daily Record stated that Celtic were open to selling him.

Scott Sinclair hasn’t started a competitive game this season (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Lennon was quick to shut that notion down – claiming he wants Sinclair to stay in Glasgow. But there was something intriguing about the vocabulary the Celtic manager used. Here’s what he told BBC Sportsound last night:

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“It’s just a little difficult period for Scott, but it’s still so early. A player of that experience is always handy to have around, he’s got a great goal record and he’s had a great time at Celtic.

“We don’t want him to go, that’s for sure.”

Lenny backing Sinclair, but it’s clear he’s not a first-choice winger

Lennon’s defence certainly struck of a man who didn’t want his player to depart. But at the same time, he didn’t give off the impression Sinclair is a top man for him either.

Describing Sinclair’s stay as “handy to have around” suggests that he could be a sub for the time being. It’s not the kind of vocabulary you would use for a first-team regular. Instead, Sinclair comes off here as a tool we can use to mix things up on occasion. A player who can come on when plan A isn’t working.

Mikey Johnston can’t be dropped anytime soon (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Sure, Lennon hasn’t actually said that, but reading between the lines it’s clear to see he doesn’t view Sinky as a regular starter from now on.

And that’s quite right too. With the performances of Mikey Johnston during pre-season and in the Champions League qualifiers, how could you drop him? Sinclair may need games, but he can’t operate effectively for us elsewhere on the pitch. Dropping Johnston, meanwhile, would just be a moronic decision.

The challenge is there for Sinclair to step it up (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Sinclair has to take the positives from Lennon’s words though. If Lenny didn’t believe in the Englishman, he wouldn’t have been so defensive of him. Whilst he could also have been stronger in his importance to the team, Lennon appears to know where he sees Sinclair at the moment.

With Johnston firing down the left and Lewis Morgan also coming into form, Sinky may have to settle for being a plan B for now. It’s down to him to change that with performances in the coming months.