Bollan backs Gary Mackay-Steven to be Celtic hit

GARY BOLLAN last night insisted Gary Mackay-Steven would be a success at Celtic amid reports that Dundee United will only let the player leave in January if a buyer is prepared to pay £250,000.

Airdrieonians Manager Gary Bollan. Picture: SNS

The Parkhead club are interested in securing the former Airdrie winger on a pre-contract agreement so he could join the champions in time for next season. Other clubs, notably Sheffield United, want to sign him now but the Blades’ bids have not met United’s valuation for a player whose contract expires in the summer.

A United spokesman said: “We do not need to sell him and, if anyone wants him at this stage, they will have to put up or shut up.”

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Bollan, a former United player who won a move to Rangers in 1995, is convinced Mackay-Steven would set the heather on fire should he seal a switch to Celtic. Bollan, now manager of Airdrie, said: “He is a fantastic talent. On his day, he is as good as anyone to watch with his pace and the skill he has got.

“I think some people said it was a bit of a chance when Peter Houston took him to Tannadice. But it’s obviously paid off. He’s been a great servant to United. Wherever he goes, I’m sure he’ll carry that on for his new club too.”

Bollan, who was yesterday named League 1 manager of the month for December, knows all about the pressure associated with playing for one half of the Old Firm and reckons Mackay-Steven’s cool temperament would help him settle into the Glasgow cauldron.

He said: “He seems like a laid-back character. It appears that things don’t bother him. So he’s got that sort of mentality, which you need at one of the big clubs.”

Should Celtic land him on a pre-contract, Bollan is sure Mackay-Steven would still produce the goods for United in their quest for honours between now and May. He added: “The value for Mackay-Steven between now and the end of the season would be more than the transfer value. They’ll want him until the end of the season to give them that push.”

Meanwhile, Bollan has saluted his players for their efforts in December and insists they can kick on to clinch a play-off spot.

He said: “We’ve had an up-and-down start to the season. But for the month of December we went all right and had a few good results. I think with the run we’re on people are maybe starting to take a bit of notice.”