Saturday 16 December 2017

Ireland for Celtic

Lennon ready to make a move for Villa’s out-of-favour midfielder

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

THE departure of Chris Hughton from Newcastle has paved the way for Stephen Ireland to make a January move to Celtic.

Neil Lennon is ready to step up his interest in the Cobh man, who is on the way out of Aston Villa. The midfielder has fallen out of favour with new boss Gerard Houllier and it looks certain that he will be sent out on loan in January.

Ireland was left out of the Villa squad for last weekend's win over West Brom, a development which has encouraged Celtic to make a renewed effort to land the player.

And they are in pole position after Hughton was shown the door by Newcastle. The Irish Independent understands that the ex-Toon boss, who has a reputation for getting the best from different characters, had Ireland on his New Year shopping list.

Celtic now believe they can land the 24-year-old on a temporary basis -- just six months after his move to Birmingham from Manchester City.

He has struggled to settle at the Midlands club and is keen on moving to pastures new. He has told friends that the switch to Glasgow would appeal to him. However, his £65,000-a-week wage packet is a stumbling block and would be beyond Celtic and his other likely suitors on a permanent basis. Therefore, a move until the end of the season is the most likely scenario.

Ireland has made just 12 appearances for Villa since his August switch, with five of those coming from the substitutes bench. He is back in the headlines this week after it emerged that he is considering a return to international football, in part because of his troubled club situation.

Irish captain Robbie Keane also suggested that the player was over-rated during his absence from international football. "It's like the media keep saying he is the best player in the world," said Keane.

Irish Independent

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