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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: CELTIC HERO IN CONTRACT LINK, YOGI EYES FALKIRK, HEARTS IN IRVINE TALKS

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JONNY HAYES can expect crunch contract talks with Celtic in January.

The versatile Republic of Ireland international’s current deal expires in the summer and he will be free to talk to interested clubs and sign a pre-contract after the turn of the year.

Neil Lennon has already stated he wants the 32-year-old left-sided player to remain at the champions where he has proved invaluable already this season in stepping in for the injured Boli Bolingoli. He performed well in the historic 2-1 Europa League Group E win over Lazio in Rome and was named Man of the Match in the 2-0 victory over Motherwell at Parkhad three days later.

Hayes cost ex-boss Brendan Rodgers £1.3million when he brought him in from Aberdeen in the summer of 2017.

Premier League outfit Burnley and Championship sides Stoke City, Huddersfield and Cardiff City are reported to be watching the situation.

Hayes has played 39 games for the Hoops including the 2-1 Scottish Cup Final triumph over Hearts in May that sealed the Parkhead club’s unprecedented treble treble.

Lennon views him as a valuable squad player with his adaptability and a two-year deal is likely to be put on the table in January.

JOHN HUGHES hopes to talk to Falkirk about replacing Ray McKinnon as manager – a decade after he left the Bairns.

The former Celtic and Hibs defender, who also bossed the Easter Road side, Livingston, Hartlepool and Inverness Caley Thistle, was linked with the Leith outfit before Jack Ross was named as Paul Heckinbottom’s replacement on Friday.

Falkirk fired Ray McKinnon on Saturday following the 1-1 draw with Dumbarton in the league’s third-tier after last season’s relegation.

Hughes, 55, is eager to get back into management and would be keen to speak to his old club over a return to the dug-out.

East Fife gaffer Darren Young is also understood to be in the running.

ALAN IRVINE is a contender to become Hearts’ new manager or sporting director, according to a report in the Daily Record.

It is understood the Edinburgh club interviewed the 61-year-old last week after being recommended by striker Steven Naismith.

Irvine worked with the Scotland international striker at Everton and Norwich City, where he was assistant and caretaker manager respectively. He most recently assisted David Moyes at West Ham.

The former Queen’s Park and Dundee United player has had spells managing Preston, Sheffield Wednesday and West Brom. He also served as academy director at both Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle.

Following the dismissal of Craig Levein, the Tynecastle club are seeking to fill both positions, with the sporting director charged with bringing in the players the Head Coach has identified.

Former Motherwell and Scunthorpe boss Stuart McCall, who also had a spell as caretaker at Rangers, and ex-Hearts winger Neil McCann have also been linked with the team manager’s post.

 

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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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