Neil Lennon revealed Hatem Elhamed is set to return to his former club Hapoel Be’er Sheva after being left “very low” with life in Scotland. The 29-year-old defender, whom Celtic signed from the Israeli club for a reported £1.6m in 2019, has made one substitute appearance since early December.
After the 2-1 home win over Motherwell at Celtic Park, Lennon said: “A deal’s been agreed with Be’er Sheva. I don’t know if it has been finalised.
“He was going through a really difficult time, his wife and son were back in Israel and he was here on his own and he was really struggling with life away from the training ground and stadium. We have to take into consideration the human factor on that. I wouldn’t say he was suffering with depression but he was very low, so we have made the right decision for him and the club. I think their transfer window is open, so there are no issues with that.”
Lennon described David Turnbull as a “great signing” for Celtic after another significant contribution against Motherwell.
The 21-year-old midfielder joined Celtic from the Fir Park club in August for a reported fee of £3 million but it has been in recent months were he has started to make an impact.
Turnbull’s corner in the second minute was headed in by defender Stephen Welsh for his first goal for Celtic and striker Odsonne Édouard fired in a second in the 51st minute.
Well midfielder Allan Campbell reduced the deficit in the 66th minute with a drive and the home side survived an added-time surge with Diego Laxalt clearing off the line to leave Celtic 20 points behind league leaders Rangers with a game in hand.
“It’s a great header (from Welsh) but the delivery from Turnbull is superb,” said Lennon.
“It’s a facet of our game that has improved with David – Scott Brown’s goal on Tuesday, Mo Elyounoussi’s a few weeks ago at Livingston. It was another great delivery today and you know when it leaves his foot that any contact at all and it could be a goal. That’s a real asset he’s brought to the squad.
“I thought he came off it a wee bit towards the latter end of the second half, but he’s been outstanding, great signing, great professional. He’s brought goals, assists and a bit of flair to the team, so really pleased with his contribution.
“I thought we were really good in the first half and even in the second half, it was some of the best football this season.”
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Motherwell manager Graham Alexander thought his side came close to getting a positive result.
“Once we got the goal back I thought we had them on the rack. We had then putting clearances out, slashing at stuff, clearing balls off the line and we went for it, so credit to the players. I thought they were exceptional today because we know what a tough ask it is coming here, but they stuck to the game plan and we were a couple of millimetres short of getting a valuable point.”
On Laxalt’s last-gasp clearance, he said: “I was hoping it was over the line. To be honest, I spoke to the linesman and he said he was in line and I have seen it since and he got it spot on.
“I don’t think it was over the line. We were close to winning a penalty as well and I have seen that and the referee has made the right shout. It is fine margins that have done us today with the result.”