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Niall McGinn set to depart Celtic

By Stuart McKinley

Niall McGinn's future at Celtic is in the balance after he was axed from the club's pre-season tour.

While a 23-man squad left Glasgow yesterday bound for a three-game trip to Australia, McGinn remained in Scotland where he will instead spend the next two weeks training with the club's second string.

And that has raised serious doubts over whether or not the 23-year-old Northern Ireland international will form part of manager Neil Lennon's plans for the new campaign, with the Parkhead boss needing to offload players.

McGinn revealed his feelings on being left out of the trip Down Under on his Twitter account, stating: "Raging I'm not going to Australia."

He later followed that up with: "Havnt been selected in the 23 man squad folks, so just gota work hard in training in the meantime."

It is the second summer in a row that McGinn has missed the main part of the club's pre-season schedule, although last year his absence was caused by a metatarsal injury sustained in the final training session of the previous season.

He did make a goal-scoring return to the Celtic first-team in October, but by the end of the season he had made just seven starts and found his route to regular first-team football blocked by the arrival of Scotland international Kris Commons from Derby County.

Former Dungannon Swifts and Derry City winger McGinn was recently linked with a loan move from Parkhead, but it is understood that the club may be willing to let him leave if they receive an offer.

McGinn has also dropped down the pecking order at international level. After starting in the 1-1 draw against the Faroe Islands last October, even before his return to the Celtic team, he was then left to watch the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Serbia and Slovenia in March from the stands after failing to make the 18-man match-day squad.

He did start the most recent international, the Carling Nations Cup defeat to Wales, just days after he caused controversy and angered many Northern Ireland fans when following the 5-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland he admitted to being a Republic fan, having swapped shirts with captain Robbie Keane.

While McGinn didn't make the trip, his fellow Northern Ireland international Paddy McCourt was on the plane.

He also visited Australia with Celtic two years ago and is planning to use the games against the Central Coast Mariners, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory to stake his claim for more regular first-team involvement in the season ahead.

"I'm looking forward to it. To have two-and-a-half weeks out there this time, with three games in three different places, gives us a chance to see Australia," said McCourt.

"We'll have plenty of time to acclimatise and get into a routine of being 10 hours ahead. I think it'll be even better than last time and be a worthwhile trip.

"The fans were unbelievable the last time. Celtic fans, no matter where you go, seem to always appear.

"They're all over the world. I'm sure this time it'll be no different," he added.

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