Mixu Paatelainen backs Teemu Pukki to impress at Celtic

Celtic and Finland striker Teemu Pukki

Finland manager Mixu Paatelainen is surprised Teemu Pukki has not made more of an impact at Celtic following his move from Schalke in August.

But he thinks that Celtic manager Neil Lennon is the right man to get the best out of the 23-year-old, who has only scored three goals in 21 games.

"It has been a sticky start but he has all the attributes to make it happen," said Paatelainen.

"He has scored goals for Finland against top nations like Spain."

Paatelainen, who managed Hibernian and Kilmarnock before his home nation recruited him in March 2011, made 70 international appearances as a forward, scoring 18 goals.

And the 46-year-old is backing Pukki to shine in Scotland, just as he did during playing spells at Aberdeen, Dundee United and Hibernian.

"It has been a slow start but I know that he can do it," he added. "How long it takes for him to start producing it is a question.

"At a top club like Celtic there is not too much time before the verdict is out.

"I am a little bit surprised because I know he can do it and he has done it.

"But I also realise that it doesn't always happen when you change a club. Something a little different about the way the team plays or the way you are asked to play, it might not click straight away.

"I know from the way Neil Lennon speaks about Teemu, he understands the situation and he understands the type of personality Teemu is, and I think that's very important in any case.

"Teemu is in good hands with Neil Lennon and Celtic and I am sure he will turn the corner."

Paatelainen was a powerful target man as a player and Pukki, who is much slighter of stature, has been working on his physique since his move from Germany.

"Teemu is not naturally strong or physical so he would benefit from that," added the Finland boss.

"Of course you have to make sure it's done in the right way and not make him too bulky so that he loses his sharpness and his pace.

"The game doesn't change wherever you are. Strikers' movement is more or less the same, what you have to do.

"I'm sure, given time, Celtic together with Teemu will gel."

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