CELTIC manager Neil Lennon has refused to rule out a summer move for James McFadden. The 49-times capped Scotland internationalist will line up against the champions for Motherwell today as he continues a re-emergence that began when he signed a short-term deal to return him to his first senior club in February.
Following an injury-blighted three years, the mercurial forward is now in his longest run of games since his time with Birmingham City and a good showing today could persuade Lennon to pursue an interest in a player he has previously admitted rating and to whom he made overtures two summers ago, before McFadden rejoined Everton. Asked about re-igniting this interest, Lennon offered: “I’m not going to talk about transfer targets [but] I wouldn’t rule it out, put it that way.
“We did make enquiries [two summers ago]. I did speak to him but we decided to go elsewhere,” Lennon said of the player who stated in an interview with The Scotsman that he would like to stay in Scotland for the sake of his family. “I don’t know if they would be happy to move down there again,” McFadden, pictured right, said. “They enjoy being back in Scotland. That’s the difficult thing, they are back here and they are settled. My two kids are at school now, loving it with their wee pals, so it wouldn’t be ideal to move them. But if needs must.”
Lennon has spoken about having four players earmarked for every position the club are seeking to fill, with first and second-choice targets potentially difficult to trap. McFadden could be a fall-back, with the Celtic manager admitting he wanted to add creativity to his squad and McFadden’s wage demands now unlikely to be beyond Celtic’s structure.
Celtic are already planning for next season with their games over the next fortnight to be contested by understrength teams as players are given one-week breaks to compensate for the fact that a mid-July first Champions League qualifier will allow them only a three-week summer break.
Kris Commons, Joe Ledley, Efe Ambrose and Kelvin Wilson have all been given leave this week with Gary Hooper, Emilio Izaguirre, Fraser Forster, Charlie Mulgrew and Georgios Samaras having a week off following the trip to Fir Park. Victor Wanyama and Beram Kayal, both suspended for the Scottish Cup final, will then have a ten-day break before the squad trains together ahead of their Hampden meeting against Hibernian.
“We will have all of [those who can play in the final] back for the build-up to the St Johnstone and Dundee United games,” said Lennon. “It took a bit of working out. I don’t think three weeks in the summer is long enough. We wanted to give ourselves enough time to prepare for the cup final and the two weeks training and preparation will be plenty. We feel it’s important otherwise these players are eventually going to suffer burn-out. Maybe looking at Barcelona in midweek it’s starting to take its toll on them. I’m not saying it’s the end of Barcelona by any means, but there are a few players there who look tired. ”
Meanwhile, Lennon will meet major shareholder Dermot Desmond next month to discuss his contract. The Celtic manager currently operates on a one-year rolling deal but is likely to push for improved terms.