Neil Lennon has assured Paddy McCourt that he still has an important part to play for Celtic this season.
The Northern Ireland winger started the campaign in impressive style, notching a spectacular winner in an opening day success at Inverness.
However, that showing remains his only start this term, with his three other appearances coming from off the bench.
A neck injury sustained while celebrating his goal against Inverness saw him lose his place and he has been unable to force his way back in since.
Lennon, though, insists that McCourt, who penned a new three-year deal over the summer, will have a leading role to play for the Hoops over the coming months.
He told the Huddle Online: "It was a wonderful goal and I enjoyed Paddy's performance. He is going to play a part this season, no doubt about it.
"The more he trains on a regular basis, the less we need to worry about his injury problems.
"He is in a good place at the moment. He is ready to play and will play a big part in the next few weeks."
One of those currently blocking McCourt's path to the first team is the in-form Shaun Maloney.
He has been deployed in a central role this season, giving him freedom to express himself, and Lennon is confident there is still more to come from the 27-year-old.
"He is emerging, and I know it's early in the season, as a big player for us," the Celtic manager said.
"I have been a big fan of Shaun for a long, long time. I've known him since he emerged as a 17-year-old when I was playing in the 2000-2001 season.
"He is not only a great footballer but also very intelligent and has a great football brain.
"He has something different from the rest, he has a great appreciation of the game and the touch and pace to get away from people.
"I was delighted with his goal (against Hearts). He can be more clinical but he is getting into those positions, which he wasn't doing before.
"Once he gets a few more goals under his belt, his season will really take off."
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