OF all the players who Neil Lennon has worked with since being appointed interim Celtic manager last month, Odsonne Edouard is perhaps the one who has distinguished himself the most.

The French forward has pitched in with vital late goals in away wins over Hearts and Dundee in the four matches that the Northern Irishman has taken charge of since succeeding his countryman Brendan Rodgers on a temporary basis.

If, then, the Ladbrokes Premiership meeting with Rangers at Parkhead today is level entering the closing stages, as was the case in those tense outings at Tynecastle and Dens Park, Lennon will both hope and expect the £9m man to intervene.

“Odsonne can be on the periphery of a game and then all of a sudden catch fire,” he said. “That’s the sort of maverick in him. You always get the feeling he can do something at any given time and that’s the real asset he has. He can produce something out of nothing.”

Edouard certainly has previous form in the Glasgow derby game. He netted a sublime winner for Celtic, who had been reduced to 10 men with the red carding of Jozo Simunovic, on his debut in it at Ibrox last March after coming off the bench in the second-half of an encounter that finished 3-2. He followed that up with a first-half brace in a 5-0 rout at Parkhead the following month that secured a seventh consecutive Scottish title.

So the 21-year-old will not - unlike his opposite number Alfredo Morelos, who has failed to net in seven Old Firm appearances, this afternoon - have any hang-ups about a failure to score entering the latest instalment of the world-famous fixture.

“Odsonne’s had that experience on a few occasions now,” said Lennon. “He knows what it feels like to score. These are the games people remember, these are the games where you write your name in the annals of the club, so hopefully he has plenty more to write.

“That’s always a good thing to have, that ability to rise to this occasion. You need your big players in the big games and at big moments. And he’s certainly done that for me in two of our four games so far.”

Yet, the former midfielder has both played with and coached a few good strikers in his time in the game. Nobody who can count Craig Bellamy, Tony Cottee, John Hartson, David Healy, Emile Heskey, Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton among his former team mates is going to be easily impressed with a front man no matter how good or important their goals. He believes that Edouard can improve in many areas and is confident that even better times lie ahead in future.

“I’ve been really pleased with his contribution,” he said. “He has really good skills. He’s come up with some really important goals. I’m pleased with his progress and I’m sure the club are as well. But there’s more to come from him. He’s only 21.

“At times he could do a little more physically. The goal he scored two weeks ago was really important psychologically. But can he score more? That may come and his all-round play might get better as well. We’re talking about a player who’s nowhere near his peak yet. Can he be more consistent in his performances? Yes, and we’re hoping that’ll come.

“I see him as a No.9, but there are facets of that position he needs to learn a little bit more. Ideally, we’d prefer him to work more centrally in the process of the team, and play centre forward as much as he can. Physically, he’s a specimen. I don’t think even he knows how strong he can be yet. And he’s a good finisher once he’s in there.”

Lennon, who cost Celtic £5.75m from Leicester City back in 2000 and remains their fourth most expensive acquisition to this day, felt that the double treble winners made a statement of intent when they signed Edouard from Paris Saint-Germain for a record-breaking £9m transfer fee last summer.

He feels the player has handled the pressure that has come with the price tag well and expects his contribution to increase going forward as he matures and becomes more familiar with the particular demands of football on these shores.

“He’s got 18 goals already this season, which is a healthy return,” he said. “In the modern game, the way prices are going everywhere else, then £9m, £10m, it’s not a lot of money. It is for us obviously, but we’re hoping to get that back over the years with what he produces for us.

“I think he’ll develop more. He’s getting adjusted to the British game having come over from France, he doesn’t speak great English, or at least he cracks on he doesn’t. He pricks his ears up sometimes when he wants to. He’s a very laid-back sort of character.”

Lennon is hoping to do well enough between now and then end of the 2018/19 campaign to be appointed Celtic manager on a permanent basis. The prospect of having the sort of money the Parkhead club lavished on their striker to work with in the transfer market in the close season if he does get the job full-time is clearly appealing to him.

Asked if he was surprised that the Scottish champions had spent so much on a player, he said: “I’m glad they did! It augurs well for the future. Whether it sets a precedent, I don’t know, but it did send out a message that the club do have that set of spending power if needed.”

Until his situation is clarified, Neil Lennon will, like everyone of a Celtic persuasion, enjoy working with and watching Odsonne Edouard in action.

“I played with Henrik Larsson and he scored the big goals in the big games,” he said. “Chris Sutton did his bit as well. It’s a good knack to have.

“The timing of his goals under me have been pretty good so far - although I wouldn’t mind if they were scored a bit earlier. But I don’t care when they come as long as they do. I’m pleased for him because he’s a quiet boy. He’s working very hard at his game. He’s an asset.”