NEIL LENNON has admitted he remains hopeful of keeping Fraser Forster and Mohamed Elyounoussi at Celtic.
The on-loan Southampton double-act played their part in the Hoops winning their record-equalling ninth successive title.
And the towering keeper, a favourite with the Parkhead followers, turned in a Man of the Match display when the holders picked up the Betfred League Cup with their 1-0 win over Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit in December.
Celtic, like every other team, will suffer the financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, but it is clear both Forster and Elyounoussi are in the manager’s thoughts at the moment.
The six times-capped England No.1 and the left-sided Norwegian international attacker have both joined in pre-season training at Lennoxtown with their temporary contract due to expire at the end of this month.
Asked about the prospect of keeping the pair, Lennon, speaking on Sky Sports News, answered: “I don’t think it’s unrealistic. They are two players who added a lot to the squad last year and made a really positive contribution.
“They are two players we would dearly love to have for next season, but we just have to wait and see. They are not our players.
“We will see how negotiations go. It’s good to see them back and involved and it would give us continuity if we could get those two in.”
Forster has two years to run on his two-year deal at the south coast club while Elyounoussi, who joined from Basel in a £16million switch in June 2018, has three.
Lennon continued: “We don’t know what the market is going to look like when it opens up again.
“UEFA are trying to extend the transfer window until October, so that might give us a bit more leeway in terms of bringing players in later on down the line.
“But financially it has certainly had an impact on the club, there is no question about that.
“However, we are confident we can still attract players in and keep hold of important players we have at the club.
“Already Jozo Simunovic and Jonny Hayes have left, so obviously we want to add to the squad and not break it up too much.
“I think continuity, for this season, in particular, is going to be important.
“I would be very confident with the players we have got at the minute. They finished last season really strongly, the second half of the season was fantastic and we have real quality and depth.
“Obviously, as a manager you are always looking to add to that if you can, but if it was to shut now I would be very happy with what I have.”
The Irishman added: “It’s early and the way the market is, it’s going to be staggered. We will have to wait until some of the leagues are over before the majority of business gets done.
“And then we are going to see who is available. It might be loans and you might get some really good players on frees. We are in depth looking at players for the last couple of months in all areas.
“Patience is going to be key. A lot of business is done in the last week, you can get some really good business done.
“We are just going to have to bide our time and pick the right ones at the right moment.”