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Celtic keen on Paddy McNair but Josh Magennis sits tight for now

By Stuart McKinley

Published 02/08/2016

In demand: Northern Ireland striker Josh Magennis is staying with Kilmarnock for the time being
In demand: Northern Ireland striker Josh Magennis is staying with Kilmarnock for the time being

One Northern Ireland international is staying in Scotland - for the time being at least - while Ulsterman Brendan Rodgers is facing a battle to take another across Hadrian's Wall to Celtic.

Former Northern Ireland assistant manager Stephen Robinson has failed in his attempts to take Josh Magennis to Oldham Athletic and Burnley have emerged as rivals to Celtic to sign Paddy McNair.

The new Latics boss had a bid for the striker, who appeared as a substitute in all four of Northern Ireland's games at Euro 2016, knocked back by his club Kilmarnock.

It is understood that the player himself told Killie manager Lee Clark that he wasn't keen on the move anyway.

Magennis is, however, believed to be keen on making a switch to England and is likely to go south before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

Twenty-five-year-old Bangor-born Magennis was Killie's leading scorer with 13 goals in the Scottish Premiership last season and has become a big player for the Ayrshire club.

Clark, however, isn't expecting his striker to push for a move.

"I've never had Josh knocking on my door saying he wants to go. I have a real good relationship with him so we'll see what the summer brings," said Clark.

Whatever happens with Magennis over the next four weeks, Celtic now have a fight on their hands if they are to have McNair face his international colleague in the SPFL.

Burnley, who booked a return to the Premier League by winning the Championship last season, have now entered the race to sign McNair, seven months after previously missing out on his signature.

Clarets boss Sean Dyche had made an attempt to take McNair to Turf Moor on loan in January, but the club was unable to reach an agreement with Manchester United at that time.

Dyche has now been alerted to the fact that Old Trafford boss Jose Mourinho told the the 21-year-old that he will allow him to leave on a temporary transfer, although a permanent deal could be struck if the right offer is made.

McNair's previous Premier League experience makes him an attractive prospect for Dyche, who is desperate to beef up his squad for Burnley's return to the top flight.

His versatility - being able to operate just as comfortably in a midfield role, which he prefers, or at centre-half - is another reason why Dyche is keen to make a move for the Ballyclare lad and getting him for a season without having to stump up a transfer fee is another reason why the Burnley chief is keeping a close watch on McNair.

Celtic are more likely to prefer a straight transfer for McNair, but they would still be happy to do a deal if a loan was all that was on the table.

Rodgers has already signed Mousa Dembele and Kolo Toure since taking charge at Parkhead this summer and with four players potentially leaving the club he wants to bring in four more new recruits.

He refused to give an indication on a possible move for McNair though.

"I can't deny or say yes or no to that because there have been so many players who have been thrown our way or linked with Celtic," said Rodgers.

Jonny Evans, who has been linked with a £15m move to Arsenal, and Gareth McAuley both played the first half of West Bromwich Albion's friendly defeat at the hands of Torquay United.

Evans is seen as the ideal replacement for German defender Per Mertersacker, who has undergone knee surgery.

Evans joined the Baggies from Manchester United last summer for £8m.

Belfast Telegraph

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