Neil Lennon has stressed that Celtic do not want to sell Kris Ajer despite the big Norwegian being linked with a bid from AC Milan.

The Celtic manager has confirmed that he had a chat with Ajer this week and the big Norwegian was totally focused on his training.

Lennon also stated that Ajer will be in the starting squad for Thursday’s game against Riga in the Europa League qualifiers.

With reports suggesting that AC Milan not having the funds to make a full cash move for Ajer but instead seeking to improve their squad with a loan to buy deal, Celtic would never allow a key player to leave on loan unless the fee was crazy high.

Lennon said:

“He is very focused. He will start tomorrow and he’s looking forward to the game. You can’t control speculation. As always, there’s been no concrete offers or concrete confirmation of anything and we don’t want to sell him.

“It can sometimes be a very distracting situation that he finds himself in but he’s getting all the support he can from myself and the backroom staff and obviously his team-mates.”

Lennon speaks about how important the tie is:

“It’s very important,” he said. “We have come out of the Champions League which is a blow for us. European football is important to a club like Celtic every season, so this game is pivotal.

“Our endeavour is to make the group stage of the Europa League, and that opens up the whole season. So we’re treating this game very seriously.

“We have got great respect for our opponents and we’ll have a strong team available for tomorrow. Europe stimulates your season, it stimulates your players and supporters.

“That’s our sole focus at the minute but hopefully that experience will stand us in good stead for these games. But it’s a one-off tie and we have to get everything right. The players are well prepared for it.

“They’ve played in a lot of one-off cup ties domestically. This is different obviously with a little change in mentality. We’re away from home against relatively unknown opponents.

“We’re trying to prepare them as well as we can but in terms of whether it’s a one-legged game or two-legged they are well aware of what is ahead of them.”