Thursday 14 December 2017

No approach for Fletcher, insists Lennon

Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Press Association

Neil Lennon would be interested if Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher was offered to Celtic but insists there has been no contact between the two clubs.

Reports have linked the Hoops with the 26-year-old Scotland international, who is said to be available at around half the £12m he cost the Black Cats when he moved there from Wolves in 2012.

Ahead of their SPFL clash at St Mirren tomorrow, Lennon was asked if £6m was beyond Celtic and replied: "No, but people are quoting £6m and he (Fletcher) was bought for £12m.

"I know transfer fees change over the years but he is a youngish player still so I would imagine it might not be £6m we are talking about.

"He is a player that I think most teams in Britain would like but affordability might be a problem for us though. Could we afford to spend £6m for one player? Yes, we could."

Asked if there had been contact between the clubs, the Hoops boss said: "No, not at all. It is speculation. I don't know where this story has come from, I honestly don't."

However, when asked whether he would be interested if Fletcher was offered to him, the former Celtic skipper said "yes" before addressing the possibility of any new signings breaking the club wage structure.

"I don't know, you would have to ask the board that but if we are going to bring in a big-name player then wages will obviously have to come into mind when negotiating," he said.

"I wouldn't imagine we would break it by a lot if we were going to do that."

Lennon, however, was again keen to stress his desire to get a new face as soon as possible.

"What we want to do is sign players for the future, for the second half of the season and obviously with the (Champions League) qualifiers in mind for next year," he said.

"I think the squad needs an injection of fresh blood and that is what we are trying to do.

"We are in a position where we can spend a bit of money. It is a position we probably haven't been in for quite a considerable time, a position as strong as this, and we will endeavour to bring quality in.

"It is very difficult in the climate we are in. We have to sell at times to make ends meet but we have done that this season so we are looking to forge ahead."

One player who has definitely joined the squad is Mo Bangura, who returned to training following his loan spell with Swedish side Elfsborg, for whom he played against the Hoops in the Champions League qualifiers last year.

The striker, however, will not be involved against the Buddies, with his future still seemingly up in the air.

Lennon said: "He is back training. The reason we let him go on loan was to get games, he has had that and we will get a look at him in the next few weeks and see how he goes. He might want a change of scenery."

Anthony Stokes claims he is unconcerned about possible new signings, and insists increased competition for places only serves to spur him on.

The Republic of Ireland striker, who has only scored once since early last October, said: "It doesn't concern me whatsoever. It is standard at the club.

"Every transfer window there are rumours and speculation that we are going to bring in players and nine times out of 10 we do.

"If competition comes in you have to up your game and that is good for the club.

"I am disappointed with my goal return this season but, on the other hand, it is not like I am missing chances galore.

"I haven't had many chances in the games. We all need to buck up a bit and play a little better football."

ST MIRREN V CELTIC, LIVE, TOMORROW, SKY SPORTS 1, 12.45

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