Celtic interim manager John Kennedy has his say on reports of moves for Hibs Kevin Nisbet, Aaron Hickey, and Leigh Griffiths contract

Celtic interim manager John Kennedy has refused to rule out the club being interested in Hibs’ striker Kevin Nisbet and Bologna left-back Aaron Hickey.

Celtic interim manager John Kennedy admitted that Hibs' Kevin Nisbet has had a "good season" in responding to reports he could be a target for the Parkhead club.(Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Celtic interim manager John Kennedy admitted that Hibs' Kevin Nisbet has had a "good season" in responding to reports he could be a target for the Parkhead club.(Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The pair were reported to be on a list of possible targets the current recruitment team will forward to the in-coming Celtic manager – expected to be Eddie Howe. Kennedy, while being circumspect about any potential recruits, did acknowledge that work identifying players for an extensive summer overhaul is on-going and that, in the case of Nisbet, Scottish-based players were being scouted. Days after he talked up St Johnstone’s Ali McCann, following speculation he could be on the club’s shopping list.

“It’s an ongoing process without any decision being made,” he said. “It’s a bit disrespectful to talk about other teams players. I don’t know what the new manager will want, but certainly in terms of the players being from our league it’s always the first place you start to see what’s available and can they handle coming to play for Celtic.

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“Everyone in this league will be covered. We will know who could potentially be capable of coming to Celtic and who not. Kevin Nisbet has had a good season. Jack Ross has done a terrific job with him as well. We will respect that, but again it will be the new manager’s decision.

“We still have a head of recruitment and a team of scouts. That’s always ongoing whether there’s a change of manager or not. There’s always continual updates in terms of what they’ve seen, looked at, what’s available and what could be of interest. That’s not changed. There’s obviously been a lot of change at the forefront of things with the manager [Neil Lennon] and Nicky Hammond [head of football operations, leaving]. Behind that there’s still a lot of work going on. Things will be put in place for when the club appoint a new manager who has to make the decisions along with the club for what’s right for the group of players.”

Kennedy, whose three month stint in charge will come to end with the club’s final league game away to Hibernian, admitted his future remained up-in-the-air, when asked if he could work under the next manager – the former Celtic defender spoken of as a possible coach in Howe’s backroom team, and also a possible candidate for the sporting director role the club are understood to be in the process of creating.

“I honestly have no idea. I just want to deal with the weekend, have a day or two off to reflect and then from there just see what’s happening going forward,” he said. “I’m no clearer than I was two months ago as to what the situation is. I think we just have to see what develops here or elsewhere and make decisions accordingly.”

One decision that remains to be taken is over whether Celtic will trigger a one-year option to retain Leigh Griffiths. It was reported that this had to be settled by the end of last month, but Kennedy appeared to suggest otherwise. “Leigh will speak to the club on that,” the interim manager said. “As with all situations here, when the appointment of a new manager comes, he will have a say on that as well. There’s not an actual definitive date on it.”

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