Celtic eye Genk’s Senegal international Kara Mbodj

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CELTIC are in the hunt for Senegal international defender Kara Mbodj, who plays for Alex McLeish’s Racing Genk.

Ronny Deila is looking for reinforcements next month after a stuttering start to his first season in charge. And 25-year-old Mbodj, who can play as a defender or a holding midfielder, has been targeted.

Kara Mbodj: Celtic interested. Picture: Getty

Kara Mbodj: Celtic interested. Picture: Getty

However, Celtic will face competition from England, with Crystal Palace and West Ham also credited with an interest in the 25-year-old.

Deila knows Mbodj well because he played for Norwegian side Tromso for two years, with the current Celtic manager encountering him plenty times when he was in charge of Stromsdgodset.

Mbodj said: “I can confirm British clubs are showing interest in me. But I don’t want this to distract with my focus which is to get Genk as high up the league as possible. In January we will talk to these clubs and I will make a decision on my future then.”

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Mbodj has helped transform McLeish’s side from relegation contenders to European hopefuls in the Belgian Pro League. And Celtic will look at the talented African closely in winter.

Meanwhile, current Celtic defender Adam Matthews admits his team wanted a bigger lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership by Christmas.

The champions are four points ahead of Dundee United and Aberdeen after Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Tannadice.

“Aberdeen, Hamilton and Inverness have done well, so we know it’s going to be tough. But we’re where we want to be at the minute,” said Matthews.

“I think we wanted a bigger gap, specially with the game in hand. But we’ve got to focus on one game at a time and hopefully get the win next game.

“I think we should have got something out of Sunday’s game, but that’s football sometimes – you can be on top and you don’t get the result.

“So we’re still top, which we want to be, but obviously we wanted to create a gap and we didn’t do that today. We’ve got to concentrate on the next game and hopefully get a win and keep the run going.”

Matthews dismissed suggestions by other clubs that Celtic would eventually win the league by some distance.

“I think that’s just playing it down. If they’re close to us they’re going to want to make a title race of it. We know that the pressure is on us and we’re expected to run away with it, but it’s not going to happen like that in football. Every time someone plays Celtic they step up their game. We knew it was going to be tough at the start of the season and it’s proving to be that.”

With Rangers stuck in the Championship and bidding for promotion back to the top flight, Celtic’s motivation has been questioned due to their rivals’ ongoing absence.

Matthews stressed there is no problem with appetite at Parkhead despite the 2-1 defeat by United. “No, I don’t think so. I think this season has proved that. When we’re not on our game we get beat. That’s why the gap’s four points and people are within touching distance. We go into every game with the same mindset.

“We’ll probably have a look at the goals tomorrow in training, so we’ll see what we can improve on and what needs to be better. Overall I think we’ve been quite solid defensively, especially in the league.”

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