Larsson back to honour McNamara

HENRIK Larsson will return to Parkhead tomorrow to honour his former team-mate Jackie McNamara and be present as Martin O'Neill makes his farewell speech to Celtic supporters.

The Swedish striker, who continues his comeback from injury in Barcelona's final Spanish League fixture of the season at Real Sociedad tonight, will play for part of his close friend McNamara's testimonial match against the Republic of Ireland which kicks off at 2pm. Former Parkhead favourite Lubomir Moravcik will also make a cameo appearance for Celtic.

It will be an emotional day at Parkhead with McNamara happily agreeing to a request from O'Neill to use the occasion to make a final address to the Celtic fans before he steps down as manager to care for his wife Geraldine as she battles serious illness. O'Neill's personal trauma has a poignant resonance for McNamara whose mother Linda lost her fight against cancer at the age of 48 two years ago.

Cancer charities, along with the Muscular Dystrophy Group and the SPFA former players' benevolent fund, are all to benefit from the proceeds of tomorrow's match. While O'Neill takes his leave of Celtic, McNamara's own future at the club remains uncertain as he concludes his tenth season at Parkhead with a well deserved testimonial.

The 31-year-old club captain is out of contract next month and is waiting to learn if incoming manager Gordon Strachan will offer him a new deal.

Several English Premiership clubs, including Spurs, Birmingham City and Sunderland, are monitoring McNamara's situation and he has also been alerted to interest from clubs in Portugal and France. The Scotland international, however, would ideally like to receive a new two-year contract from Celtic.

Republic manager Brian Kerr is using tomorrow's match as a warm-up for their World Cup qualifying games with Israel at Lansdowne Road on 4 June and the Faroe Islands in Torshavn four days later. Manchester United trio Roy Keane, John O'Shea and Liam Miller and Tottenham duo Robbie Keane and Andy Reid will link up with Kerr's 21-man squad today, while Chelsea winger Damien Duff arrived in Dublin yesterday.