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HANDS OFF CALMAC

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CELTIC have issued a hands-off warning to any clubs interested in a summer swoop for Callum McGregor.

The 26-year-old Scotland midfielder has emerged as a key man in the Hoops first team during their unprecedented treble treble success over the past three spectacular seasons.

Former Parkhead boss Brendan Rodgers is an admitted admirer of McGregor’s outstanding qualities, but he understands his old club will not welcome any advances for the playmaker while he looks to strengthen his Leicester City squad for the new campaign.

However, Neil Lennon is bracing himself for renewed bids for Kieran Tierney after the champions knocked back a paltry £15million bid for the 22-year-old left-back from Arsenal, as CQN reported yesterday.

The London side know they will have to seriously up the ante for the fans’ favourite while Napoli are understood to be readying a higher offer as demand for the player intensifies.

Celtic’s valuation of Tierney is reported to be in the £25million range and it remains to be seen if either Unai Emery, at the Gunners, or the Serie A club’s chief Carlo Ancelotti will be prepared to go so high.

Lennon, speaking to The Mail on Sunday, admitted: “I would be surprised if there were no bids for a number of players here. Even if they are mid-table clubs, they have plenty of money and they are playing in the Premier League.

“There is big money being quoted for players down there and Kieran is as good as them, if not better.”

Mikael Lustig’s departure for Gent has confirmed a vacancy at right-back while, on the other flank, Emilio Izaguirre’s exit has left the club bereft of cover for Tierney, who underwent a double hernia operation at the end of the season.

WAITING AND WONDERING…Kieran Tierney.

Danish defender Peter Ankersen is in the frame, while a move for free agent Adam Matthews, a player well known to Lennon and Celtic, would provide cover for both sides.

Asked specifically about the Welsh international, the Irishman responded: “I’m not going to talk about any players until they are sitting next to me. I can’t talk about players who may or may not come.

“Kieran is rehabbing at the moment. Left-back is a position we are looking to strengthen. We need cover there – there’s no question about that. Again, we have a few options, plates spinning.

“He needs a hand. Kieran has played a lot of football over the four years he’s been on the scene.”

Tierney and McGregor will both fly out to Austria today with their team-mates for a pre-season training camp – and it is expected that David Turnbull, the £3.25million new Bhoy from Motherwell, will be among the travelling party.

The title kings face FK Sarajevo in the Champions League qualifiers and Lennon hopes to have more faces in before the new season kicks off in Bosnia on July 9.

He added: “I think at least four before we play that first game. ‘We have one in, David Turnbull, so another three. We are a bit light, thin in some positions, which we’ve known for a while.

“We are working on the hour, every hour.”

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