NEIL LENNON was the Celtic boss when highly-rated teenager Islam Feruz was tipped to hit the big-time.

However, the top prospect never kicked a ball for the Hoops first team when he was lured from Parkhead to mega-rich Chelsea in 2011.

The Irishman is now manager at Hibs, one of the many clubs where Feruz, 21, tried – and failed – to realise his potential during five years of increasingly desperate loan moves which also included spells at OFI Crete and Blackpool.

Lennon offers some well-intentioned advice to 13-year-old Karamoko Dembele who has dominated the headlines during the week after his remarkable debut for the Under-20s against Hearts on Monday.

The ex-Parkhead gaffer said: “Karamoko needs a good family set-up. Advice? Don’t run too soon. Celtic, as a club, will do everything they can to protect him and do things in his best interest.

“He is obviously a talent, but he is still young and needs protected and handled the right way. I’m sure the club will do that. We would do the same for any player we had of that talent. Celtic want to keep a hold of Dembele and develop him in the right way.

“I am sure there were lessons learned from Islam’s situation. We felt at the time that he was making the wrong decision. I don’t think he had the right structure in the background on the personal side of things to deal with what was lying ahead. 

“I think Islam is an example and there are many other examples out there. I don’ t know the boy’s background and his family. But he’s a talent and he is good to watch – and he just needs nurtured and protected. We live in age where clubs are well structured to do that.

“Dembele is still a kid. And, hopefully, he can still have a nice upbringing and enjoy his football.

“The fact that he has some exposure in the last few months might make things a little bit different for him. We also need to remember he is a 13-year-old kid and I am not all that comfortable talking about him, just because he is so young.

“But has made the headlines. There is a talent there. Can we leave him alone? That is the most important thing.”

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