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Celtic star Paddy McCourt stands up to bullet threat

Paddy McCourt, who was sent bullets in the post this week, accepts as a Celtic player there is intense pressure on and off the field - and still wants to play for Northern Ireland.

Strathclyde Police are carrying out an investigation after a package containing bullets and addressed to McCourt at Celtic Park was discovered by Royal Mail workers in the east end of Glasgow on Tuesday.

Bullets sent to Niall McGinn and Celtic boss Neil Lennon last week were detected by postal workers in Mallusk, County Antrim. All three packages were posted in Northern Ireland.

Asked if the events of this week had impacted on him, McCourt replied: “No, not at all.”

The winger, who joined Celtic from Derry City in June 2008, has this season established himself in the first team, making 18 appearances and scoring five goals.

McCourt said it took time for him to settle in Glasgow, in part due to injuries, but he is determined not to allow the pressure of playing for Celtic to get to him.

He added: “It took me a good year and a half before I felt ready to play.

“There's been a lot of players to have played for Celtic that found it tough, playing for such a big club.

“But when you set out playing football as a young lad, you want to go to the top of your game and so far getting to Celtic's been the top of mine.

“Once you get there, there's no point in letting it get to you.”

Lennon retired from international football in 2002 after receiving death threats, but McCourt has no intention to do the same and remains available to Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington.

The 27-year-old, who made his debut against Spain in April 2002 and has won four caps, said: “I've always said I wanted to play for Northern Ireland.

“Sometimes I'm in the squad, sometimes I'm not. That's the manager's decision. Hopefully the more games I play here, the more I'll be in his mind.”

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington said he would be speaking to both McCourt and McGinn.

Worthington said: “It is disappointing when these things happen but the players have my full support and encouragement.

“Hopefully everyone can see sense, behave themselves and focus on sport.

“I will speak to them to see where they are at but I don't foresee any problems.”

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