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No Hoops panic after Kayal blow

Celtic manager Neil Lennon will not reassess his January transfer plans despite potentially losing Beram Kayal for the rest of the season.

The midfielder will undergo surgery on Monday to repair the ankle he damaged in a challenge with Rangers midfielder Lee McCulloch.

Celtic will discover the extent of Kayal's lay-off after the operation, but Lennon yesterday revealed that the Israel international could be out for four months or more.

However, Lennon has a number of options in central midfield, with Victor Wanyama and Ki Sung-yueng in good form and Scott Brown back to full fitness following his own ankle injury.

Joe Ledley will also come into contention for a central-midfield position after deputising at left-back for the fit-again Emilio Izaguirre.

Kayal was initially ruled out for at least one month, but Lennon yesterday stated: "He had a second scan and he needs surgery. It could be a minimum four months or we could maybe get better news. The result is he needs surgery, we are just not sure on the extent of it yet."

Lennon, whose team face Peterhead in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup tomorrow, has already signed Sweden right-back Mikael Lustig, and has previously admitted his interest in signing a centre-back and striker.

He added: "There are a number of players interesting us in a couple of positions. We've got strength in depth and we have Kris Commons and Glenn Loovens a week away from full training and Mark Wilson, who has made a great recovery, two weeks away.

"Allied to that, we have Lustig in there, who is not far away from being fit. We are looking to improve the squad, but if we can't it won't be a disaster."

Aston Villa have been linked with a move for Ki, although manager Alex McLeish is unlikely to have the funds to prise him away from Parkhead.

"I'm aware of interest but I'm not aware of any offers," Lennon said of the South Korean. "I want to keep all my players here. Everyone has their price, but it would have to be a huge, huge offer for us to even consider it."

Commons, who has failed to replicate the form he showed when he signed for Celtic last January in an injury-hit start to this season, is also attracting interest.

"I think there is interest from Southampton in Kris," said Lennon. "I will try and fend off any offers that come in. To have him back for the second half of the season is a huge bonus."

Celtic will be forced to make at least one change for the trip to Peterhead, with Gary Hooper out with a groin strain.

"We'll go with a pretty strong squad and one thing's for sure, we'll not be complacent or taking this game lightly," said Lennon.

Peterhead v Celtic,

Live, Sky Sports 1, tomorrow, 3.0

Irish Independent