THE clock is ticking down on Cameron Carter-Vickers’ loan arrangement with Celtic.

The temporary transfer officially runs out on May 31 – with another four weeks to negotiate – ten months after his deadline-beating deal which was completed in dramatic circumstances with just minutes to spare.

Carter-Vickers has been a massive player in the remarkable Hoops turnaround which has been skilfully masterminded by Ange Postecoglou from the first day he agreed to become Neil Lennon’s long-term successor back in June.

THE GOLDEN SHOT…Cameron Carter-Vickers prepares to drill the Ibrox winner past Allan McGregor.

As anticipated, there has been a clamour for the Greek-Australian gaffer to make the central defender’s switch to Glasgow from London permanent and former goal hero Charlie Nicholas is among the latest to insist his old club MUST target the US international as a “priority” signing.

The dependable, unfussy back-four operator took the headlines with the winning goal at Ibrox on Sunday to propel Postecoglou’s men six points ahead at the pinnacle of the Premiership with six games to go and the countdown will continue with St Johnstone next up at Parkhead on Saturday afternoon.

Carter-Vickers snapped up his goal in Govan with the alertness and anticipation of a seasoned scorer, but it was his work alongside Carl Starfelt in the middle of the rearguard that provided the team with the foundation to enjoy a second successive victory over Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s outfit following the 3-0 rout in the east end of Glasgow in February.

ON THE BALL…Cameron Carter-Vickers is in control.

Just under a year ago, Kemar Roofe terrorised the Hoops centre-backs – Kristoffer Ajer and Stephen Welsh – and scored a double as the home side coasted to a 4-1 win over 10-man Celts who had Callum McGregor dismissed early in the action.

Did anyone see Kemar Roofe at the weekend? He remained on the pitch for the entire 90-plus minutes and didn’t get a solitary sniff. Carter-Vickers is not a man to be bullied, that’s for sure.

So, it is easy to see why the next 12 weeks are absolutely vital in Celtic’s quest to persuade the much-travelled Southend-born 24-year-old to pledge his immediate future to the club and continue to play a pivotal role in the team’s extraordinary transformation.

Former Hoops fans’ favourite Nicholas, speaking to the Daily Express, put it this way: “I would have to say if I was Ange Postecoglou, I would be making Cameron Carter-Vickers’ future my immediate priority.

“There are the likes of Jota and other different targets, but Carter-Vickers has to be their top target.

“You would hope automatic entry to the Champions League might inspire him to stay.”

HEADS I WIN…Cameron Carter-Vickers gets up to clear from former Hoops striker Tony Watt.

Nicholas added: “He comes across as a big, calm individual. The defender is strong and physical and he has done really well for Celtic.

“There is no doubt there will be big clubs looking at him, thinking he could do a job for them.

“His passing is decent and I think it will be a big fight to keep him.”

The reported transfer figure as an option in the contract was £6million and there is little doubt Carter-Vickers will be seen as a reasonable buy at that price.

The rock-steady centre-back was just one of SEVENTEEN recruits by Postecoglou over two transfer windows.

And, as Nicholas points out, he must be a priority signing in the summer to continue the good work at Parkhead.


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