THERE was a moment in Celtic’s win over Cluj on Thursday night that must have felt like something of a double-edged sword for Neil Lennon. On the one hand, he would have been watching on with quiet satisfaction as one of his players, Callum McGregor, conjured up a majestic defence-splitting pass to send Boli Bolingoli scampering to the byline. A second later, the ball was in the net via the head of Odsonne Edouard.

On the other hand, there must have been a nagging voice inside his head questioning just why he played McGregor at left-back in the Champions League qualifier between the sides, as he witnessed what he was capable of from the middle of the park. Not that he really needed a reminder of his player’s ability, or for that matter, his tactical error from the one real blot on the season’s copybook to date.

It was no surprise then to learn that Lennon is keen to tie McGregor to Celtic beyond his current contract, which runs to 2023, with moments like that pass on Thursday night just a microcosm of why he is so keen to do so.

“It was outstanding,” Lennon said. “We had a lot of good passages of play. I though Callum was brilliant, not just his passing and reading of the game but physically he looked good and strong.

“Him and (Scott) Brown gave as a real platform in midfield: their interception work and their second ball work and recycling the ball and switching the play.

“So not only does he do that work but then he has the vision and the execution to split defences open. He had a brilliant ball in for the (Christopher) Jullien header as well, he executed that great.

“So, his all-round game [on Thursday] night was of a very high quality and I thought he was brilliant in Rennes as well, I have to say.

“He is so reliable, and I think people take that for granted because he has that consistency of performance week-in, week-out. People are maybe overlooking it, saying he needs a rest, but he is too good a player to rest.”

As well as the impressive performances of stalwarts like McGregor and Brown against Cluj, Lennon enjoyed the contributions of some of his new boys too, and none more so than Mohamed Elyounoussi. The winger got the second goal to kill the game on the night, but that was simply the cherry on top of an accomplished overall showing.

“[He has] a bit of guile, intelligence,” Lennon said. “I like him. You saw his pedigree, he has got that experience of his time at Basel where he was outstanding.

“He is different, he is not like a dynamic one, going outside and crossing the ball but he is quick with the ball. He covers the ground well and I liked his physicality last night as well in the 50/50s and aerial challenges.

“His strength was very, very good and his fitness levels are high so he finished the game well, but technically he is a good player as well.

“He has creativity in him, and we saw a goal in him which he has been waiting a long time for. You could see that with his celebration, I thought he was coming over to me, but he gave me a complete custard pie!

“Hopefully that will give him a boost, not that he needed one because he has been really good.”

One notable feature from Lennon’s tactical set-up and team selection on Thursday evening was that he used the same system and personnel he had when drawing the opening fixture of Celtic’s Europa League group campaign against Stade Rennais in France, hinting that despite the depth of the talent pool he now enjoys, he has settled on a preferred starting 11 for big games.

"I wouldn't say it's my preferred choice but on the balance of what we've accomplished...” Lennon said.

“It's horses for courses sometimes, it will change as we go along but I was delighted with the approach to the game. We played as a team and all the departments functioned really well.

“I think certainly in the goalkeeping department we are very strong. We have got three top keepers which will keep Fraser really sharp and on his toes.

“Craig has done absolutely nothing wrong when he has come in and played. He is training well so hopefully that rubs off on the two of them.

“And then we have decent depth elsewhere. We had a good bench [on Thursday] night with (Nir) Bitton, (Olivier) Ntcham, (Scott) Sinclair, (Moritz) Bauer, guys with good experience. Then you think of the guys who weren’t in the squad like (Greg) Taylor and (Jeremie) Frimpong and Mikey Johnston to come back.

“It is important that we have that because went to be fall on from now until the end of the year.”

So, does that mean that some of the fringe men will get a chance to impress today at Livingston?

“We have given the majority of them [Friday] off to clear their heads then we will see how they are [on Saturday] and take a view on team selection from there," he said.

“It could be a necessity to freshen up or it could be that some players don’t respond well to artificial pitches. All those things we have to try and take into consideration. There is the fatigue element as well because they put a lot into the Cluj game.

“It is a very quick turnaround. It is a 12pm kick off which is a big ask. We responded well from the Rennes game against Kilmarnock.

“There is a temptation to keep things rolling. There may be one or two changes, but I don’t think there will be wholesale changes.”