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Balde still facing a fight to usurp Stokes at Celtic

The Portuguese youngster will have to be at his best to win favour with Neil Lennon

Celtic new boy Amido Balde may have grabbed the headlines recently but with main rival Anthony Stokes signing a new deal, he still has some way to go before becoming a fixture of Neil Lennon’s first team plans.

The 22-year-old was in the thick of the action against Partick Thistle last weekend, scoring what proved to be the winner just eight minutes after being thrown into the action by the Northern Irishman.

Signed from top-flight Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes for £2 million over the summer, the goal was Balde’s first major contribution to the Glasgow giant’s efforts this season.

And while some patience is required, question marks remain as to whether the forward can make a successful transition to Scottish football, with the player himself hinting at issues since his arrival in an interview with the Daily Record.

“It wasn’t easy for me at first, having to adapt to coming here,” he told the news provider.

“I know Celtic want a forward who will score goals but I’m calm and prepared to take my time because I know the goals will come.”

The weekend’s goal - his second for the club - may have eased some of the pressure on the forward, but he will be expected to contribute more in the coming months.

Lennon’s own view on Balde remains unclear too, with the Bhoys coach jokingly labelling the striker a “baby” after his match-winning cameo at Celtic Park.

Though the comment was evidently in jest, it nevertheless raised some concerns.

After all, while a young player, at 22, Balde is no baby and with Celtic continuing to utilise it’s impressive conveyor belt of youth talent, he could soon find himself competing with one of the many Glasgow upstarts itching for a first time opportunity.

You only need look at the example of James Forrest, a player with over 67 appearances for the Hoops and yet just 22, to see that time is of the essence.

Balde, at the very least seems all too aware, telling the Daily Record that he “will have to grow up quickly here.”

A run of goals is crucial yet something relatively alien to the forward, who has never hit double figures in a single professional season.

It’s that kind of record that makes him such a tough sell to Lennon, with Anthony Stokes available and evidently committed to a future with the club.

Balde may be in the limelight for now, but he would be wise to get his head down and get working, otherwise he could find it fades quicker than expected.

image: © celticphotos

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