ALEX McCARTHY, the Southampton keeper linked with Celtic, has put talks of a move on hold – for at least eight days.

The 34-year-old shotstopper, who is out of contract in the summer, is apparently interesting Brendan Rodgers in his search for a replacement for the retiring Joe Hart, as CQN reported earlier in the week.

However, McCarthy is concentrating fully on the Championship Play-Off Final against Leeds United at Wembley a week tomorrow after piling the misery on loan Celt Mikey Johnston and West Brom in last night’s second leg semi-final 3-1 victory at St Mary’s.

The Midlands side, with the Hoops’ Republic of Ireland international winger in the line-up, travelled to the south coast after last week’s goalless draw at The Hawthorns.

IT TAKES TWO…Alex McCarthy with former Celtic keeper Fraser Forster during a training session with Southampton in 2021.

McCarthy, though, put up the shutters until seven minutes into stoppage-time when former Motherwell defender Cedric Kipre netted a consolation goal for the visitors.

The Saints were coasting 3-0 at the time with second-half strikes from Will Smallbone and Adam Armstrong (2) to book their place in the big-money clash with the Yorkshire club next weekend.

Boss Russell Martin admitted the question whether McCarthy remains or goes could come down to the outcome at the national stadium.

The one-time Scotland international centre-back, speaking to local press the Southern Daily Echo, said: “It’s just been about letting Alex focus on his football. He’s been fantastic since he came into the team.

“He brings a real calm and influence, great with his feet and with his hands. Whenever the season finishes we will all sit down.

“I think a lot will depend on what happens and we will cross the bridge about contracts when the season ends.”

JOY BHOY…Mikey Johnston celebrates the first of his double in Celtic’s 3-0 win over Dundee at Dens Park on Boxing Day.

There is also a question mark over Johnston’s future with West Brom now coming to terms with a third consecutive season in the second tier.

The Hoops wide Bhoy scored seven goals in 20 appearances after his short-term switch in late January and there were reports the Midlands club were keen on making the transfer permanent.

Johnston, who still has two years to run on his Parkhead contract, will return to the champions in the summer to ponder his next move.

In the meantime, 37-year-old Hart will play his final game in the east end of Glasgow today against St Mirren before he gets his hands on the Premiership silverware for the third successive year of his impressive stay at Celtic.

*DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best action images from Celtic v St Mirren this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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