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RIVAL AIMS TO SCUPPER CELTIC BID – FOR SECOND TIME

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STOKE CITY are planning to hi-jack Celtic target Alfie Doughty in the January Sales.

It will be the SECOND time the Championship side have swooped to sign a player on the Hoops radar this season.

Former Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill moved swiftly to land striker Steven Fletcher on a free from Sheffield Wednesday in the summer when there was talk of a switch to the champions.

The ex-Hibs frontman admitted he was interested in a return to Scotland and Neil Lennon confirmed negotiations had taken place between the club and the player’s representatives when he admitted: “Talks are ongoing at the minute. We will just have to wait and see.”

However, the proposed move stalled and the Parkhead men paid £5million to West Ham for Albian Ajeti instead. The 33-year-old Scotland international switched to the Potteries where he has scored four goals from 18 league appearances, one fewer than the Swiss forward at the Hoops.

Now O’Neill is hoping to derail interest from Celtic by tabling a six-figure bid for Charlton’s Doughty, the versatile left-sided player who can perform at wing-back and midfield.

The 21-year-old is out of contract in the summer and can speak to interested clubs this month before walking away for free in June.

The London side are resigned to losing their hottest property and are keen to cash in before losing him under Freedom of Contract, according to a report on Sky Sports News.

Celtic failed with multiple bids for Doughty in the last window and have maintained their interest.

They know they could get him in cross-border deal for a knockdown price as they did when they landed Moussa Dembele from Fulham in the summer of 2016.

However, Stoke are hoping to scupper their plans for a second time in this campaign.

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