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Europa League: Uefa must sort out eligibility mess, says Celtic boss Lennon

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes Uefa should clear up the confusion that threatens to turn their Europa League play-off tie against Sion in to a non-event.

The Swiss club arrived in Glasgow yesterday for tonight's first-leg clash at Parkhead with five players in their squad who are, in the eyes of Fifa, ineligible to play.

Sion allegedly broke a registration embargo by the world football governing body at the weekend when Pascal Feindouno, Mario Mutsch and Gabri all lined up against Lucerne, after a Swiss court ruled in their favour.

Former Hearts defender Jose Goncalves and Billy Ketkeophomphone are also in Sion's European squad approved by the Swiss FA who, along with the club, have reportedly been warned by Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino about possible sanctions although the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who will rule on the issue, will not pass their verdict until after the second leg next Thursday.

Lennon, though, would like it all sorted out before the first leg.

“From my point of view, if a team plays ineligible players, they should be punished accordingly within the rules of the governing body,” he said. “The rules should be there to adhere to.

“But we are all still in the dark as to the outcome of this. It would be nice if there was some clarification on it before the game.

“I won't be seeking it, but I think for all parties concerned it would be best if we had some sort of answers. But I am not making a major issue of it.

“Basically I am concentrating on my own team and preparing as best as I can.”

The former Celtic skipper completed the signing of goalkeeper Fraser Forster yesterday and hoped to have the paperwork through before last night’s European deadline.

“A deal has been agreed,” said Lennon. “There are a few little snags to overcome but we hope to have him registered in time.

“If that is the eventuality of things, we would be absolutely delighted. He has been the main target since the end of last season.

“We did put a bid in but it was knocked back but we worked hard in the background to try to bring him in so I'm very, very pleased.”

Lennon is considering putting Forster straight in against the Swiss side.

“We will have to see his condition,” he said. “The form of Lukasz Zaluska has been very good so we will weigh these things up.

“But it has given myself and the squad a boost. We have three very good goalkeepers so there is great competition in that area which is what we wanted.”

It appears Lennon, though, has problems convincing Cameroon international Mo Idrissou that he might have a future at Parkhead.

The Borussia Monchengladbach player was meant to turn up at Lennoxtown for a trial but didn’t arrive.

“The agent has been holding that back,” he said. “I don’t know if it is an issue of money but there is no sign of him at the minute.”

Lennon also claimed that agent intervention could see Celtic lose talented youth player Islam Feruz to Premier League runners-up Chelsea.

Lennon will be without Glenn Loovens, Emilio Izaguirre, Beram Kayal and Gary Hooper tonight and, although defender Thomas Rogne if fit, he is unlikely to feature.

Belfast Telegraph


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