Neil Lennon thinks Celtic will be looking to let ‘a couple of players’ leave on loan this January, The Scottish Sun report.
The manager sent youngsters Ewan Henderson and Anthony Ralston out on loan to Scottish Premiership sides during the summer transfer window and it seems more could be on their way out of the door.
However, there are squad depth considerations for Lennon.
He told the paper: “We may look at letting a couple of players go on loan. We are thinking of that at the minute, allied to the volume of games.”
Loans can be great development tools for talented youngsters to gain some crucial experience, especially for those with little chance of usurping established regulars in the starting eleven.
Players such as Callum McGregor, Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie have all benefited from temporary moves away.
So who would benefit most from a winter exit?
The 19-year-old defender joined the club from Manchester United in the summer but has so far not managed to make a senior debut. That’s no reflection of his ability of course, but he is at a stage of his career that reserve football at Celtic won’t do his development much good.
He already has extensive U23 experience with the Red Devils, so Lennoxtown friendlies and cup matches aren’t likely to give him a significant boost.
Despite no senior club appearances, he’s already impressed the Republic of Ireland staff enough to earn a full cap with Mick McCarthy’s side, playing against New Zealand last month.
A short switch out on loan could give him the confidence he needs to push on and compete for a spot in Lennon’s lineups.
Able to play at right-back or centre-back, he’d be a great acquisition for a number of Scottish top-flight teams.
Still just 18, there’s plenty of time for Luca Connell to improve and make a push for the Celtic first-team, but the current form of the Hoops midfield could be a significant barrier.
Scott Brown and Callum McGregor are simply too important right now, with players such as Olivier Ntcham also ready to come in and perform at a high level.
Like his international teammate O’Connor, Connell would benefit greatly from regular first-team action. He already had experience of that at Bolton last season, so games for our second-string is a step back for the player.
He needs to learn his trade as a combative, all-round midfielder and ideally that would happen in Scotland, where the pace and physicality of the game doesn’t come easy.
If a team in the Premiership are looking for a young talent who isn’t entirely untested then Connell would be an excellent choice.
For Celtic, it could also be a great way to help him reach the standard required. Sunday’s final gave him a taste of the success he could have in Glasgow.