NEIL LENNON has played down reports Dederyck Boyata has agreed terms with Hertha Berlin and insisted he could STILL remain at Celtic.
German media revealed yesterday the Belgian international central defender had already signed a contract with the mid-table Bundesliga outfit, as CQN reported.
Boyata is a free agent in the summer and is poised to quit Parkhead four years after arriving in a £1.2million switch from Manchester City.
The 28-year-old limped off in the 2-1 win over Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit a week ago with a hamstring problem and the interim manager admitted the World Cup stopper may have played his last game for the champions.
But Lennon had had a u-turn in his thinking and admitted the Hoops have not yet given up hope of extending Boyata’s stay beyond the summer.
After the drab goalless draw with Livingston yesterday, Lennon, speaking to the Mail on Sunday, reacted to the claim the player was heading to Berlin.
The Irishman said: “I’m not aware of that. Dedryck was here at the game today.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there is interest in him, but we are still hopeful that we can persuade him to stay, which would be great for everyone.”
The stalemate with Livi means Celtic will not be crowned champions this weekend, regardless of the outcome between the Ibrox side and Motherwell at Fir Park.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Dedryck Boyata could still stay at Celtic, according to Neil Lennon.
The Hoops’ bid for an eighth successive title will extend into the post-split fixtures, with a trip to face Hibs at Easter Road their next league game in a fortnight.
Before that comes a Scottish Cup semi-final showdown with Aberdeen at Hampden a week today and Lennon has urged his team to be more ruthless in front of goal.
They had EIGHTEEN shots yesterday, but were kept out by keeper Liam Kelly who also denied them in Lothian earlier in the campaign.
The game limped along from start to finish which was in stark contrast to last week’s victory over their Govan visitors.
Lennon reflected: “It was a total extreme, the tension and intensity of the game. Sometimes the fans need to be excited.
“But the players did everything they could, particularly in the first-half with the quality of football and the chances they created. We just lacked that bit of punch.
“I think if we’d got the goal at any stage of the game, we’d probably have won comfortably.
“We’re not firing on all cylinders at times and that has been prevalent since I’ve come in. But it’s not as if we are not creating the chances. We are.”
The best opportunity of the afternoon fell to substitute Oliver Burke in stoppage time, but the on-loan West Brom forward squandered the chance by slashing the ball wide of the post.
Lennon added: “I thought Oliver had scored and he probably knows he should have scored. But Livingston are good defensively and their goalkeeper excelled.”