Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Celtic admire McCarthy’s teen spirit

Hamilton were last night fighting to keep hold of star midfielder James McCarthy after Celtic made their move for the teenager.

Accies boss Billy Reid confirmed the Lanarkshire club had received a bid from the Scottish champions, which was set to be rejected.

But agent Willie McKay claims 18-year-old McCarthy has his heart set on a move to Parkhead and as long as Celtic meet Hamilton’s valuation, it looks likely he will leave New Douglas Park this summer.

Reid refused to divulge the amount of the offer for McCarthy, which is the second bid for the player in just over a week after Portsmouth saw an approach rejected. Pompey reportedly wanted to pay £500,000 to land arguably the hottest prospect in Scottish football, but Reid is not prepared to entertain anything less than a seven-figure bid.

He said: "The club have received an offer for James. I can say at this stage that it will be rejected."

McCarthy, who only signed a new three-year contract last summer, recently capped a superb debut season in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League by winning the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year award.

He has been on the radar of bigger clubs for many years and there were representatives from a number of Barclays Premier League sides at Accies’ 1-0 home defeat to Falkirk last night.

Everton, Newcastle, Tottenham, Middlesbrough, Wigan, Blackburn, Sunderland, Wolves and Ipswich have all been linked with the teenager.

But McKay has claimed McCarthy (pictured) would snub a move to England in order to join Celtic.

Reid added: "We’re keeping James informed at all times of the situation.

"At this stage, he’s just focusing on the final two games of the season." Reid last week warned McCarthy’s suitors to forget about landing his prize asset on the cheap.

Despite interest from some of the biggest teams in Europe, Accies have managed to hold on to McCarthy since he made his debut as a 15-year-old in November 2006.

Reid is confident the latest bout of speculation will not faze the player.

"James has had this for two years and he’ll not let it affect him," he said. "We’ll sit down at the end of the season and talk about James’ future."

After winning his PFA Scotland award, McCarthy said he would sit down with Reid and chairman Ronnie MacDonald at the end of the season to thrash out his future.

He revealed he would even be willing to discuss signing a new contract. In the past, a guarantee of first-team football at such a young age has been enough to keep McCarthy at New Douglas Park.

Reid has revealed that if he were to lose McCarthy, he would welcome the chance to take him back on loan at any time.