VERSATILE Republic of Ireland international Jonny Hayes has emerged as a transfer target for several English Championship outfits.

The 32-year-old Celtic star is out of contract in June and will be allowed to talk to interested teams throughout January.

Hoops boss Neil Lennon has already admitted he is eager to keep a valuable member of his first-team squad who has filled in at left-back in Boli Bolingoli’s injury on a few occasions on the rundown to the first part of the season.

Stoke City, now managed by former Northern Ireland gaffer Michel O’Neill,are leading the chase for Hayes with Preston, Middlesbrough and Cardiff City also linled with the ex-Aberdeen ace who arrived at Parkhead in the summer of 2017 on a £1.3million move from the Pittodrie outfit.

Ironically, he had scored his side’s early goal in the Scottish Cup Final in May that year before Stuart Armstrong levelled and Tom Rogic supplied the last-gasp winner to complete the first treble.

Lennon had expected the club to open talks over a new deal more than 10 days ago, but the champions have still to speak to the player or his agent.

Hayes had a taste of English football earlier in his career when he worked with Brendan Rodgers at Reading before crosssing to the border to join Inverness Caley Thistle before moving on to the Dons.

* HAPPY New Year when it arrives, folks! The CQN team wishes all our readers a healthy and prosperous 2020. Have a good one and we’ll see you tomorrow!



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