WHENEVER Kieran Tierney eventually leaves Celtic, whether that be in this transfer window or in the future, whoever walks in his stead will have formidable shoes to fill. There wouldn’t have been many among the Celtic fans walking out of last week’s win over Nomme Kalju at Celtic Park convinced that Boli Bolingoli was the answer to that particular conundrum for Neil Lennon.

The left-back had a nightmare as he stumbled through the opening half-hour or so before being carried off, with Lennon citing a virus he was carrying prior to the game as the reason behind his shaky showing.

The Celtic manager believes though that the much-improved performance from Bolingoli in Tuesday night’s second leg against the Estonian champions was much more indicative of his true level, and that the Belgian would be capable of carrying the weight of replacing Tierney should the Scotland man depart for Arsenal.

He was keen to stress though that reinforcements for the position would also be sought when he was asked if Bolingoli could fill the void left by Tierney, replying: “Yes, but we would look to bring another one in as well if KT goes. I don’t think there’s any question that we would have to do that anyway.

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“I thought [Bolingoli] was good in Tallinn. I thought he was a lot stronger. He looked really off it last week and I don’t know whether that was down to the virus or not. He was more like himself offensively and defensively.

“His fitness levels were good so, yeah, a much more rounded performance from him.

“We’re only talking a couple of weeks in a new country and people are expecting [the new signings] to hit the ground running.

“The problem is that they have to, but the more games he gets under his belt the more au fait he gets with life and the training and the players and the better he will get.

“We had a chat with him on Saturday morning and he had a good run out in a bounce game against Man City for 45 minutes. He has then played the 90 in Tallinn and that looked more like him.”

Another who impressed in Tallinn was Olivier Ntcham, as the midfielder made his first appearance for the club since stating that he wanted to leave Celtic this summer in the French press.

A meeting between manager and player upon his return to the club seems to have Ntcham focused once more on doing his talking on the field.

“I had a chat with him when he came back, we had a chat during the week and we had a good chat on Tuesday,” said Lennon.

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“It was just about him in general and trying to get to know him a wee bit better.

“Whether that’s had any effect on his performance in Tallinn I don’t know, but I thought he was brilliant.

“Whether he plays the 10 or midfield you consider he has only really been back a week or two and it was a really good all-round performance.

“Again, you have to gauge the level you are playing against and be careful. But there was a lot of good things in his performance [in Tallinn] and it was pleasing.”

Lennon knows that a stiffer test awaits his men than the one they faced in Tallinn as they step up to the third round of qualifying against Dan Petrescu’s CFR Cluj.

It won’t be the first time that Lennon and Petrescu have pit their wits against one another, and the Celtic manager has warned his men they will have to be at their best to keep their Champions League dreams intact.

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“I played against [Petrescu] in the late 90s in the Premier League,” Lennon said. “He was a class player at Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday.

“I think he actually came to Lennoxtown one day. We certainly met before on a personal level as coaches.

“The only time I’ve come across Cluj was a January winter break when we had a sort of friendly game. We lost 2-1 and I remember Gregory Tade, the former Inverness player, played for them.

“They have a good pedigree at this level and a good manager as well.

“Listen, we know it’s going to be a step up. There are no really easy ties now and we will be ready for them.”