NEIL LENNON has revealed he is DELIGHTED his proposed transfer swoop for Ryan Christie ended in failure.

The interim Celtic boss was in charge of Hibs in the summer when he targeted the Scotland international midfielder as a potential loan signing.

Christie, though, was the one who got away before Lennon caught up with the smooth operator in his return to Parkhead in February to take over following Brendan Rodgers’ departure to Leicester City.

The 24-year-old Highlander returned to first team action as a second-half substitute against St Mirren in Paisley and settled the outcome with the second goal in the 2-0 triumph.

Lennon, speaking to the Sunday Mail, paid tribute to the former Inverness Caley Thistle player who had spent 18 months at Aberdeen on a temporary transfer before his Hoops career finally took off in this campaign.

JOY BHOY…Ryan Christie shows his delight after scoring against St Mirren in midweek.

The Irishman said: “I’m delighted to get Ryan back on the pitch. I’ve enjoyed working with him.

“He gave us all a lift on Wednesday at St Mirren. He had good energy about him – he’s quality.

“I tried to get Ryan to Hibs at the start of the season before he had made his impact at Parkhead. There was talk of John McGinn signing for Celtic and we were keen to take Ryan the other way to Hibs.

“It has obviously worked out well for him and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him on the pitch.

“Ryan was a real catalyst, once he got into the Celtic team, for a lot of good performances.

“The one that sticks out is the League Cup semi-final against Hearts when his second-half performance was superb. The team went on to have a great win that day and he hasn’t looked back.”

Lennon added: “When they join such a big club, players can be written off very quickly. Maybe that was the case for Ryan.

“But he has improved in a physical sense, his professionalism is good and he’s a good talent.

JOY BHOY…Ryan Christie fires in the League Cup Final winner against Aberdeen.

“Scotland missed him in the recent games. He would have been ideal for what Alex McLeish is trying to do.

“He is a good, young Scottish player and, hopefully, there is a lot more to come from him.

“He came back from injury quicker than expected and that speaks volumes for his desire to get back in the team.”

Christie will return to Hampden with his team-mates a week today for the crucial Scottish Cup semi-final against Derek McInnes’ Dons outfit and the youngster will be hoping to stage an action replay at the national stadium.

The classy midfield operator got the only goal of a tight and tense encounter to secure the Betfred League Cup for the Hoops in December.

That strike just before the interval made sure the treble treble bid was on and Christie aims to keep the team on course against the Pittodrie men in seven days’ time.

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