GEORGIOS Samaras set to exit Celtic as Neil Lennon admits he’s eyeing up five new signings; Michael Johnson to step down as Kilmarnock chairman as club announces it is debt-free and Hibs stopper Michael Nelson says anyone dropped from the team to face St Johnstone can have no complaints
Samaras on way out of Celtic
NEIL Lennon has admitted that Greek striker Georgios Samaras could be the next high-profile departure from Celtic, as the Hoops boss conceded: “It is looking less likely he will be here after the summer.”
Samaras, who has been with Celtic since signing from Manchester City in 2008 after a successful loan spell, stalled on contract talks earlier this year and Neil Lennon has revealed he will be planning for life without the 6’4 forward.
“I have to plan for being without Georgios,” Lennon said. “There has been no more communication between the club and his representatives at the minute. He is still with the same agent he had from the start of the season but there have been no more talks since the January window. I will need to speak to him to see where I am and that will be a priority in the next week or two.” (The Scotsman)
Lennon eyes five to bolster squad
FIVE players have been earmarked by Celtic as potential signing targets, from an ‘extensive list’ drawn up by Neil Lennon. The Celtic boss has accepted that some players may leave Parkhead, with the likes of Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk attracting interest from down south.
Lennon said: “We have an extensive list of players that we are looking at with a view to bringing here in the summer. We are certainly looking at four or five positions.
“I am pretty sure that players will be leaving in the summer. I have no indication of how many but players will be leaving, I would imagine.” (Various)
Macheda rumour ‘wild speculation’
LENNON poured cold water on suggestions by the agent of frozen-out Manchester United striker Federico Macheda that Celtic were interested in signing the Italian.
“It’s wild speculation,” the Hoops boss promised. “A striker is always a priority position but, at the moment, we are well stocked in that department.” (The Scotsman)
Boerrigter fitness ‘a worry’
THE Celtic boss also responded to frustrated Derk Boerrigter’s comments earlier this week about not playing regularly, insisting the Dutch winger was happy at Celtic, and frustrated with injuries, adding: “I saw the interview and I am quite comfortable with everything he said. It wasn’t a pop at me at all. He has found it frustrating because of injuries but we have played him in some big games this season.
“He is pretty happy here, he is just frustrated that the injuries have taken its toll on his flow of games.” (Various)
Lennon ‘disappointed’ at lack of English interest
NEIL Lennon also expressed his disappointment at the lack of interest from English clubs - in him, rather than his players.
He admitted being surprised at the lack of suitors, saying: “It disappoints me at times although I’m not just talking about myself.
“There should be more British managers being looked at for Premier League jobs. This is not me being xenophobic but I’m glad Tim Sherwood got a crack at Spurs, put it that way.”
Although the Celtic boss has been linked with a handful of jobs, no chairman has made a move for Lennon, who can count wins against Barcelona and taking the Hoops to the last 16 of the Champions League among his successes.
And Lennon reopened the debate about Celtic moving to England, adding: “The perfect scenario is managing in England with Celtic but as you grow and look to progress your career, if things don’t change for the better here then maybe you need to look elsewhere.
“I have a lot of challenges still ahead of me here but the Premier League would be an ambition one day.
“If Celtic were to play in England, even if it is in the lower leagues to start with, I think we’d grow into one of Europe’s biggest clubs.” (Daily Record)
Kilmarnock ‘debt-free’ as Johnston to step down as chairman
KILMARNOCK fans were celebrating yesterday after the club was confirmed as debt-free. And chairman Michael Johnston, a target for angry fans in recent months, is to step down from his position at the end of the season, although he will retain his place on the board.
Four new investors have reached a deal along with Johnston and the bank that will see the following happen:
• Billy Bowie, Russel Smith, David Moran and Jim Mann join the Rugby Park board, and will invest in a six-figure sum in a new share equity to provide working capital for the club
• Park Hotel sold to enable the deal to happen
• Ex-chairman Jamie Moffat writes off his £1.8m loan to the club
• Separate community engagement board set up involving fans and community leaders
Some of the debt has reportedly been paid via investors and the sale of the hotel, but it is understood that the Bank of Scotland has written off a significant sum as well.
The club are also investigating the prospect of laying an artificial surface at Rugby Park. (Kilmarnock Standard)
Dropped Hibees can have no complaints - Nelson
HIBERNIAN centre half Michael Nelson has insisted that any Hibs player dropped for the club’s match with St Johnstone this afternoon can have no complaints.
The 33-year-old stopper was pragmatic during the press conference yesterday, warning: “If [Terry Butcher] wants to put the kids in, he’ll do it. We won’t change his mind.”
Butcher had threatened to drop his flops for the crucial clash in Perth and replace them with the club’s youngsters following the 3-1 defeat to Partick Thistle.
And ‘Admiral’ added: “You are only as good as your last game. You can go and sit in the manager’s office for two hours after he’s named the team but I’ve never seen a dropped player walk out of a manager’s office having been put back in the team.
“There’s no point going in shouting and bawling – it’ll only put you further away from getting back in the team.
“Whether you are 18 or 34, it makes no difference. The only way to stay in the team is play well and win games. Sometimes that even isn’t enough.” (The Scotsman)