Rumour Mill: International boss laughs off Celtic link | Fans fear club will become ‘Celtic offshoot’ | Hearts keen on new deal for key man

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The latest Scottish football news, transfer gossip and rumours...

O’Neill cools Celtic talk

A general view of Celtic Park. Picture: SNS Group

A general view of Celtic Park. Picture: SNS Group

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill has played down talk linking him with the Celtic job.

The former Hibs and Newcastle midfielder insisted he was fully focused on the national team after being asked about the Hoops job.

O’Neill said: “I’m under contract here, I’ve a job to do. I was a bit surprised at the timing - Brendan’s done an amazing job to win seven trophies out of seven, and to do domestically what he’s done, it’s been phenomenal.” (The Sun)

Club fears it will become a ‘Celtic offshoot’

Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond is set to make a significant investment in League of Ireland side Shamrock Rovers.

The reported €3 million deal is one of the largest sums of money to be pumped into an Irish club.

But some fans fear it’ll cause the Tallaght outfit to become an offshoot of Celtic. (Irish Times)

Hearts hopeful over new Uche deal

Craig Levein revealed today that he is desperate to sign striker Uche Ikpeazu on a long-term Hearts contract – and the Englishman is equally eager to stay.

Discussions on an extension to Ikpeazu’s two-year deal, which doesn’t expire until May 2020, are progressing well.

Hearts are confident he will commit his future to them. “We’re getting there. I’m confident. He’s desperate to stay and I’m desperate to keep him. He’s a really good boy,” said manager Levein. (Evening News)

Fulham eye Clarke

Steve Clarke has emerged as a target for Fulham, with the Craven Cottage side looking for someone to succeed Claudio Ranieri, who was sacked on Thursday.

It’s been claimed Clarke - who rebuffed an approach from the London club in 2015 - remains high on a list of targets.

He said in response to rumours linking him with the Celtic post this week: “I am 100 per cent sure that I will be going back to England in the future, that’s where my life is. But for now my focus is on Kilmarnock.” (Daily Express)

Kennedy: I couldn’t have quit Hoops to follow Rodgers

John Kennedy has admitted he couldn’t have turned his back on Celtic and followed Brendan Rodgers out of the club.

The Northern Irishman took assistant Chris Davies and coach Kolo Toure with him, but Hoops No.2 Kennedy said: “There wasn’t a moment when I might have gone too. I’ve had a really close attachment with Celtic. 
“There’s certainly an emotional attachment there. To leave Celtic would be very difficult for me. This is another great opportunity for me to move up and progress, and hopefully finish the job that’s been started.” (The Sun)

Killie stars to miss Tenerife trip to replay Motherwell clash

Kilmarnock players will miss a five-day trip to the canary Islands after their abandoned match with Motherwell was scheduled to be played tomorrow.

Steve Clarke was due to take his squad to a Costa Adeje training camp but despite believing the rearranged clash would not impact on the trip, Rugby Park chiefs are now scrambling to rearrange the expensive plans. (The Sun)

Rodgers ‘didn’t speak to players’ before exit

John Kennedy has revealed Brendan Rodgers didn’t address the Celtic squad before his shock exit from Parkhead.

The Celtic No.2 said: “Did Brendan speak with the players? No. He left about Monday lunchtime. He came out to training as normal and, to be fair, when he left the building, nothing was done or decided.

“He was just going at that moment in time to have chats, so the players weren’t aware of it as news broke through.” (The Sun)