CELTIC last night entered the race to sign Gary Mackay-Steven, hours after Dundee United rejected a second bid from Sheffield United for the in-form winger, who is out of contract at the end of the season.
The Scottish champions, who lost 3-2 yesterday to Sparta Prague in their second friendly in Gran Canaria, have made an official approach to United for permission to speak to Mackay-Steven with a view to him possibly signing a pre-contract agreement.
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The 24-year-old, who has won one full Scotland cap, has been in fine form for United in recent weeks as speculation continues about his future. After failing to hit the net all season, he opened his account for the campaign with two goals in United’s thumping 6-2 derby win against Dundee, then followed it up with a goal in a 2-2 draw at Partick and another strike in his team’s 3-2 win at Hamilton on Monday night.
Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough travelled north to watch Mackay-Steven in action at New Douglas Park and was suitablyimpressed by what he saw, as the Blades tabled a second bid for the former Liverpool and Fulham youth.
Clough had an initial bid in the region of £120,000 to try to lure the 24-year-old to Bramall Lane knocked back by United chairman Stephen Thompson last week and this latest offer which came after Monday night’s match was also deemed unacceptable. It remains to be seen whether the English League One outfit will come back in with a third bid.
Now Celtic have emerged as candidates to sign Mackay-Steven, who has made it clear he is happy to remain on Tayside until the end of the season when his contract expires before heading on for pastures new.
Meanwhile, Mark Wilson has left United, the Tannadice club have confirmed.
The 30-year-old has failed to make an appearance this season despite recovering from a foot injury several months ago. A club spokesman said: “This decision is for the mutual benefit of both parties. Mark is keen to move on for his career development and the manager was keen to enhance his options within the first-team squad.”
Wilson rejoined United in August 2013 following spells with Celtic and Bristol City, and played 20 times last season. The versatile player was the subject of club disciplinary proceedings in October following an incident involving Celtic goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska in the early hours of a Monday morning in Glasgow’s Ashton Lane. Wilson, who played for United’s development team later that day, revealed he had tried to “calm a matter down” and help his former team-mate. United midfielder Paul Paton was later arrested in connection with an alleged assault on Zaluska.
United’s win at Hamilton lifted them above their opponents and into third in the Premiership, and Accies striker Mickael Antoine-Curier has told his team-mates they must move on from the departure of Alex Neil and help Martin Canning secure his place as the former manager’s successor.
Accies started the new era slowly by going two goals down at home to United on Monday. They responded by pegging the visitors back but Sean Dillon’s late header earned the Tannadice side a 3-2 win.
Caretaker player/manager Canning told his players they had to repeat their second-half performance when they host Celtic on Sunday. And Antoine-Curier has urged his colleagues to put the past behind them following Neil’s move to Norwich.
“The first half we were nowhere near our best performance,” he said. “Listen, Alex Neil left and now we just need to think about Martin Canning. We need to see if we can help him get the job permanently. The second half is the way we have to perform.”
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