Georgios Samaras can grasp his chance, says Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has urged Georgios Samaras to cash in on his fine start to the season and earn himself a new deal with the club.
The Greece forward, entering the final year of his contract, was on target for Celtic on Thursday night in the 2-0 Europa League home success over Utrecht having also impressed Lennon during a prolific pre-season.
Lennon, who admits the striker's inconsistency has troubled him in the past, wants Samaras to maintain his form over a longer period to secure his future.
Samaras looked as if he might be surplus to requirements during the summer with Lennon's reservations about him well-known, but he looks certain to lead the line again when St Mirren visit tomorrow.
Lennon said: “He could be a very important player for us this season. I'm very pleased with him.
“I liked his attitude during the pre-season. His all-round game is coming on.
“There were glimpses of inconsistency in his game again against Utrecht. He played very well first-half, but there were bits of his game he could have improved in the second-half.
“Overall, though, I'm very pleased with him. If anyone deserved a goal over the piece it was him so hopefully he'll take a lot from that.
“His attitude and his level of performance have been good, no doubt about it. He's been a big player for me so far.
“With all footballers you have a point to prove to people, but deep down it's proving the point to yourself. I think he's got the bit between the teeth at the minute. He's only got a year left on his contract so he's playing for his future, as well.
“I look at what he's got in his make-up and I think he's got all the attributes for what it takes to be a modern-day striker.”
It was a game against St Mirren that was the catalyst for Lennon being in the Celtic job, an unlikely 4-0 away defeat to the Paisley club in March proved Tony Mowbray's last in charge.
Lennon replaced Mowbray on a temporary basis initially, before eventually being confirmed in the post during the summer, but has no fears about the same opposition undermining his own job security.
Lennon confirmed Morten Rasmussen has joined Mainz on a season-long loan, while revealing central defender Josh Thompson is in talks with Rochdale with regard to another loan agreement.
He added: “The whole reason we've let these guys on the periphery of the squad away is because they need to go and play football, but they're still our players at the end of the day.”
Lennon, who claimed a reported interest in drafting in Everton's Nigerian centre-half Joseph Yobo on loan was “just speculation”, admitted he is still in the market for more names before the transfer window closes.
“You always would like quality in your squad,” he said.
“We're getting that and the more we can bring in the better. When the opportunity is there, as with Craig Bellamy, I want to pursue it and see how far down the line it can go.
“Sometimes that can have a detrimental impact on the rest of the squad when you're focusing on one individual player, but if a quality player comes along who is available and affordable then we'll try to get them in.”
Lennon was keen to distance himself, however, from Vladimir Weiss, who has secured a loan switch to Rangers from Manchester City after first being namechecked with Celtic.
He said: “It was an agent that brought him to us and we showed a bit of interest, but we withdrew that interest after a while.”