CHRIS SUTTON insists Celtic will have to delve into the January transfer market to strengthen their first-team squad.
The former Hoops striker watched his old team-mate Neil Lennon’s side lose 2-0 in the largely-meaningless Europa League Group E defeat against Cluj in Romania on Thursday.
However, striking legend Sutton reckoned the game highlighted the champions’ urgent need to splash the cash if they are to be successful at home and abroad in this campaign.
The one-time England international frontman, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Celtic’s progress was a formality, as we all knew before they boarded the flight to Cluj.
“That 2-0 loss in Romania should be taken into context that it was always going to be a difficult night for a lot of the players.
“The likes of Leigh Griffiths, Scott Sinclair, Moritz Bauer and Boli Bolingoli haven’t had much game time, especially going into a game at such a high level.
“What it did do was shine a light on the perceived strength in depth within Lennon’s squad.
“Take Griffiths and his latest audition to get himself back into the side and declare himself as a striking option again. I thought he did okay.
“But I keep looking back to last Sunday’s Cup Final and the fact Celtic started the game without a centre-forward as they had Lewis Morgan leading the line.
COMEBACK BHOY…Leigh Griffiths had a rare start in Romania.
“In many respects it was the perfect scenario for Lennon as not only did they still win the game, he can now go to Peter Lawwell in January and justifiably state his need to recruit a striker and use the Final as exhibit A.
“It was clearly evident in Romania there are areas in the team Celtic need to strengthen.”Regardless of what anyone says, central defence is another problem which could do with being bolstered.
“It was far from ideal having Christopher Jullien playing against Cluj and risk a ban for the next round.
“There was a chance he’d be booked and maybe he should have been, as I counted five fouls he committed in the first half.
“For Celtic to want to be successful then they clearly need to have their strongest team on the pitch and the circumstances of the Cup win shows there’s still plenty of work to do.
“It’s been a near perfect start to the season, but there were many players who didn’t do themselves any real favours with how they performed at Hampden.
“That battle to get into the team will only become harder as Lennon looks to increase the competition for places next month.”
Lennon introduced 18-year-old Scott Robertson to his line-up for the midfielder’s debut while Karamoko Dembele, 16, came on as a second-half substitute.
However, the Hoops gaffer will revert to his key players when Hibs visit on Premiership business tomorrow afternoon.