NEIL LENNON is ready to unleash the tantalising talents of 16-year-old Karamoko Dembele on opponents in the new season.
The Celtic boss is convinced the gifted youngster has the quality to demonstrate he belongs in the first-team environment as the champions chase the coveted nine crowns in a row.
Dembele, who signed a two-year deal with the Parkhead side shortly after his 16th birthday, has already revealed he is looking forward to some game-time in the forthcoming campaign, as CQN reported yesterday.
Lennon, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “Karamoko is certainly part of the first-team squad just now.
“He is in the mix, but we have to very mindful of his age and his development. Sometimes, though, you don’t want to curtail talent, either.
“Wayne Rooney was also one who made his debut at 16. I’m not saying Karamoko is going to be as good as him. They are different types, for a start.
“But he’s a very talented player and one I think should be mixing with the first team now.
“He is ready for that, to be training with the first team and dipping in and out. That’s all part of his development.
TEENAGE RAMPAGE…Karamoko Dembele makes a superb first impression against Hearts.
“We have seen it with others in the past. Aiden McGeady was young when he came in. Shaun Maloney had only just turned 18 when he made his debut at Ibrox as a sub.
“Being around the older players can help him and it’s good to become familiar with the first-team environment.
“Karamoko isn’t fazed by it, but, again, we have to treat him very carefully.”
Lennon handed Dembele his first team debut last month when the tricky winger replaced Oliver Burke in the 2-1 Flag Day success over Hearts at a packed Parkhead.
The wonderboy was an instant hit with the appreciative Hoops support and he did enough in a storming 45-minute period to win a place in the manager’s Scottish Cup Final squad against the same opponents a week later.
Dembele did not figure in the 2-1 triumph that sealed the treble treble, but there is little doubt a spectacular future awaits a special and precocious talent.
And, with Lennon there to guide him, it is likely to kick off in the forthcoming months.