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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: CELTIC BOSS HAILS McGREGOR, KEEPER REVEALS GERS TALKS, McINNES PRAISES DONS COMEBACK

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NEIL LENNON is delighted with the news Callum McGregor has signed a new five-year contract and hailed the Celtic midfielder as “one of the finest players in the country”.

Winger James Forrest and goalkeeper Scott Bain have also recently committed their long-term futures to the club with new four-year deals.

Scotland international anchorman McGregor, who has emerged as a key player alongside skipper Scott Brown in the team’s engine room, will be at the champions until the summer of 2014 at least.

And the Hoops boss, speaking to the official Celtic website, said: “The club has done a brilliant job securing Callum on this new long-term contract and I am delighted that we have been able to confirm this news today.

“Callum is a fantastic player, someone totally committed to the club and a guy who has come through our ranks and given all his playing life to Celtic.

“He is a huge talent, with untold ability, but has also demonstrated a true work ethic across his time at Celtic to ensure that he has become one of the finest players in the country. In Scottish football and in Europe he has regularly delivered top performances.

“I have had the privilege of working with Callum over many years now and I am delighted he wants to be part of the club’s long term future.

“Callum has made history already with the club and we hope he can be now be part of more success going forward.”

Former Hoops gaffer Brendan Rodgers was linked with McGregor, 26, in the summer, but he will now have to look elsewhere for midfield recruits as he attempts to strengthen Leicester City in the January transfer window.

Bournemouth, too, rated a mention, but Parkhead fans will be as happy as their manager the player has committed his long-term future to the champions.

VACLAV HLADKY, the St Mirren keeper, has revealed Rangers are showing an interest – but he is more interested in pursuing his dream of playing in the England top flight.

The Paisley No.1 claims talks have taken place with the Ibrox club, but his preference is to head across the border at the end of the season.

The Czech shotstopper was the subject of a £200,000 bid from Azerbaijani champions Qarabag in the summer.

Hladky, in a report in the Daily Record, said: “Rangers are interested in me and some negotiations are underway. But playing in England is the big dream. The biggest dream is to play in the Premier League, but that is a big jump.

“I know I will need to make another step first on the way. I’m not crazy enough to think I can go from St Mirren directly to the English top division. Going to the Championship would be ideal for me. That is preferable to staying in Scotland.”

He added: “This will be my last season with St Mirren. Negotiations with the club took place over the summer and autumn about a new contract. But we have agreed that my football goals are a little higher than here.

“There is still time to sort things out. But by January I would like to know where I will be playing next season so that I can fully focus on St Mirren and keeping them in the league again.

“I have felt great at this club from the first day with all the support they have given me. I am very happy here for now.”

DEREK McINNES has praised his Aberdeen players for bouncing back after their 4-0 walloping from Celtic at Pittodrie.

The Dons were down and out by the time the interval arrived as their visitors led by four goals with efforts from Odsonne Edouard, Jeremie Frimpong, James Forrest and Mohamed Elyounoussi.

McInnes demanded an immediate reaction and set a target of maximum points from the remaining three games before the international break.

His team delivered six with back-to-back wins against Hamilton and Kilmarnock.

They travel to Ross County on Saturday before the Premiership goes into a week’s shutdown for the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

McInnes, speaking to the Aberdeen Evening News, said: “There was a bit of scrutiny on us after Celtic and I think the players have done extremely well to win both games with both clean sheets.

“It is just a start for us and, hopefully, we can go on and get a third win in a row against Ross County. And go into the international break feeling a bit better about ourselves.”

 

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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