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HAZARD’S QUICKFIRE REWARD

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CONOR HAZARD is in line for a quickfire reward after his Celtic first-team breakthrough.

The 22-year-old keeper will be offered a bumper contract extension by the club after his impressive debut in the 3-2 win over Lille in the Europa League Group H encounter last week.

And the towering netminder followed that up in the 2-0 Premiership victory over Kilmarnock at the weekend – only the Hoops’ second clean sheet in 14 games.

Hazard, who is already a Northern Ireland international, comes out of his current deal in June and the Parkhead hierarchy are keen to tie him down a long-term agreement, according to a report in the Scottish Sun.

The shotstopper will almost certainly retain his place for the Scottish Cup Final against Hearts at Hampden on Sunday with £4.5million summer arrival Vasilis Barkas on the bench.

The Greek No,1, bought for a record fee for a Celtic goalkeeper from AEK Athens, has failed to convince and back-up Scott Bain has been unimpressive in his first-team outings.

Hazard, who had loan spells at Falkirk, Partick Thistle and Dundee, is now poised for a run in the top side and Neil Lennon wants his future sorted now.

The Downpatrick-born last line of defence joined the Hoops youth academy from Cliftonville in 2014 and was promoted to the first-team squad by Brendan Rodgers in 2017 when he also signed a four-year contract.

Championship outfit Dundee had wanted to take him back to Dens Park on loan for this campaign, but were knocked back.

Hazard made his international debut in 2018 and is now a regular squad pick for boss Ian Baraclough.

His ambition is to emulate David Marshall, the last academy goalkeeper to establish himself in the Parkhead top team.

In 2017, Hazard said: “It feels amazing and it’s a great honour for me. It’s a boyhood dream come true. It feels unreal and it’s special to have my family over to see me signing.

“They have obviously been with me from the beginning.

“I have had great help from Colin Meldrum and Stevie Woods who have really developed me over the past three years and hopefully there is more to come.”

 
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