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HOOPS SPY ON £7m DEFENDER

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CELTIC spied on Brentford defender Rico Henry last week as Neil Lennon puts his first-team squad jigsaw together.

Recruitment chief Nicky Hammond watched the £7million-rated England Under-20s full-back, but the Hoops will receive no encouragement from the Championship outfit if they step up their pursuit of the player.

The Bees are lining up a new contract for Henry to keep him at the club to help their promotion push.

That is unlikely to deter the eight-in-a-row champions, but they may need to clear out some of his fringe players to make way for fresh talent.

Lennon, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “We are really pleased to have finalised the Kieran Tierney situation.

“We have got a lot of money in for a player we have developed and has been fantastic for the club.

“The squad looks strong, it looks good. We want to bring a few in, but we may have to get a few out to make sure the balance is right.

“We have done well over the years – developing players and selling them on.

“We have also used that money to add to the quality, and this situation will be no different.

“Will it help to upgrade my wishlist? Yes.

“It will help. We aren’t going to go out and break the transfer record, but we will try to be shrewd with it.

“We will look to up the quality if we can in the positions we want to. We can still buy players from England. You might get good deals coming out of there, or abroad, now.

“We are in a healthy position. I like the squad, but we are always looking to strengthen. We are playing well just now, there is momentum and we look fit.

“But if there is quality available, we will look to strengthen and give the place a lift.

“Ideally, we will have one or two in before the next European round.

“I keep saying that, but you need to be patient. Ideally, yes. But there are no guarantees.”

Lennon has already spent £12million in the transfer market this summer in bringing in centre-half Christopher Jullien at a club record for a defender of £7million from Toulouse while £3million was splashed on Rapid Vienna’s Belgian left-back Boli Bolingoli, £1.2million on right-sided back-four operator Hatem Abd Elhamed from Hapoel Be’er Sheva and £350,000 development fee for Republic of Ireland midfield prospect Luca Connell from Bolton.

*DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Motherwell v Celtic this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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