Monday 19 February 2018

Bhoys have Lawrence in their sights as McCourt gets contract offer

Celtic have offered a contract extension to former Derry City star Paddy McCourt and are also still on the trail of Stoke City midfielder Liam Lawrence.

"My agent has had another couple of calls and so it is still going on," Lawrence said yesterday. "Something could be happening in the next couple of weeks."

Lawrence has already expressed his desire to join Celtic if Stoke decide to sell, but insists he will focus entirely on City if he ends up staying in the Premier League.

"If nothing happens, I'm still giving my all for this club. I think the supporters know that," he said.

"I've just said in the past that if something comes up and it's good for Stoke and good for me, then it might be time for me to move."

McCourt, meanwhile, has been a target for Premier League new boys Blackpool, but Neil Lennon still has the 26-year-old as part of his plans.

"We have offered Paddy a two-year extension and the ball is in his court. We'd like to keep him," the Celtic boss said.

McCourt had a four-year spell in English football with Rochdale, during which they rejected a £1.5m offer from Manchester City after he was linked with several top-flight clubs.

However, injuries and a loss of form led to his departure from Spotland Stadium and unsuccessful trials with Norwich City, Crewe Alexandra and Motherwell.

He moved to Shamrock Rovers for a spell cut short by their financial problems and he was sold to League of Ireland rivals Derry.

Three years later, he was sold again, this time to Celtic, for whom he has made only five starts and 15 more appearances from the substitutes' bench despite scoring some spectacular goals.

Meanwhile, Lennon has warned his players they will face a team focused on attack when they play Sporting Braga in the Champions League next week.

Braga finished second behind Benfica in the Portuguese league last season after leading the way for much of the campaign.

"They are a very attack-minded team, score a lot of goals and are technically very good," Lennon said. "But I think it's a decent draw for us as well. And the fact that it's away first, I am pleased about as well, so we will go over there and try to get a decent result."

Irish Independent

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