CELTIC’S Assistant Manager reckons that the weekend’s friendly against Rennes will stand the Celtic players in good stead for the action ahead and reckons that the likes of Leigh Griffiths, Christopher Jullien and Luca Connell will all be better prepared to feature in the Champions League qualifier on Wednesday night as a result of their shift against the French Cup winners.
“After the difficult game on Tuesday night, with the heavy pitch and the travelling, we got out of it what we wanted,” John Kennedy noted after the goalless draw agains Rennes at the weekend.
“We would have liked a bit more action in front of goal in terms of in the box and maybe some goals, but the fitness benefit will be great for us.
“The games in between the European ties are very important in terms topping up the fitness levels of the ones who maybe didn’t play in midweek, while the ones who have had a longer off-season maybe need a bit more sharpness.
“We got that, which is the most important thing. There doesn’t seem to be many knocks or injuries, so we just prepare now for Wednesday night.
“I’m delighted with Leigh Griffiths too. He’s done terrifically well throughout pre-season in terms of his application, and he’s trained every single minute. That was a challenge in its own for Leigh after coming from a period of time out, so it was about making sure he got the training in and didn’t pick up another injury that could set him back.
“He’s got through the hardest part of it, and now we’re beginning to see a bit more of what Leigh Griffiths is all about. When he’s playing off the shoulder he’s looking sharp in his pressing.
“He tailed off a bit towards the end so we made the change, but that’ll hold him in great stead going forward. Leigh will definitely be in contention for Wednesday.”
Kennedy confirmed that the knock to Nir Bitton’s knee just before the interval is nothing serious and he’ll be contention for a place in the side in the return leg against Sarajevo. And new Bhoy Christopher Jullien is in line for his competitive debut in midweek after sailing through the game against Rennes. Luca Connell too will be eyeing some game time against Sarajevo after getting a taste of playing for Celtic in the low-key friendly. Things are sure to hot up for him though.
“Christopher has had a longer period off than our guys,” Kennedy pointed out, “so for him it’s about getting the fitness and sharpness back.
— Chris Jullien.. (@Chri6ViF) July 13, 2019
“He’s a big guy who takes a bit of time to get going when his fitness is down, but in terms of where he was when he came in and where he is now, we’re seeing a big difference in how he’s moving, his fitness levels and his sharpness. We’ll continue working that and now that he’s had a game under his belt he comes into contention.
“And Luca is a guy who’s got talent. He came in and did very well at Bolton. He’s been around the Irish squad and we spoke to people there who rate him very highly. We brought him here because of his talent.
“He’s a young player who’ll need time to develop and he comes into a club where he can do that. He had a thigh injury during the summer and arrived late in camp so his fitness levels are a bit lower than everyone else and he’s one that will have to build up over time as well,” the impressive Celtic Assistant manager said to Celtic View Editor Paul Cuddihy on the official site.
John Kennedy also put the record straight regarding the fake news claims that Celtic youngster Liam Morrison has ditched Celtic to sign a three year deal with German giants Bayern Munich. Speaking to Graeme McGarry at The Herald, the Celtic Assistant Manager clarified the position as it currently stands regarding the highly regarded 16 year old defender.
“I know there’s been a discussion but we’re trying to sign Liam on a professional contract,” said Kennedy.
“There’s a lot of interest from elsewhere but nothing’s happened, nothing has been agreed, we’re still in the mix and we want to keep our players here.
“We need to speak to Liam, his representatives, his parents and see where it goes.”
💬 "After the difficult game on Tuesday night, with the heavy pitch and the travelling, we got out of it what we wanted." #CELREN
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) July 13, 2019