Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland star Oliver Norwood summer transfer target for Celtic boss Rodgers

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland star Oliver Norwood is a summer transfer target for new Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

The Carnlough man, however, faces stiff competition to land the gifted Reading midfielder with Premier League new boys Burnley and Hull City also keen to land the 25-year-old, who will be an influential figure for Michael O’Neill’s side at the Euro 2016 finals.

Norwood, who should play against Slovakia in a friendly tonight, is focused on the finals and a move will not be completed until after the journey ends in France, but it seems clear his two-year spell at Reading is coming to an end.

Rodgers is an admirer of the former Manchester United trainee’s passing range and ability to keep the ball — just the type of footballer he wants to bring to Parkhead.

It is understood, though, that Hull, who defeated Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 in last month’s Championship Play-off final, are the favourites to snap Norwood up in a £1.5million deal.

Burnley, who are Norwood’s hometown club are also in the running.

With midfielder Joey Barton, who helped Burnley win the Championship. having moved to Rangers, the Turf Moor outfit need to sign a playmaker in the middle of the park and believe Norwood fits the bill.

Premier League Bournemouth were linked with the midfielder in April, but others have moved ahead of them in the queue.

It's little wonder clubs want Norwood given the brilliant performances he has delivered for Northern Ireland over the past two years.

He was one of the stars for O'Neill's men during the successful Euro qualifying campaign and has already created history on two counts in his international career.

In the qualifiers he played more minutes than any other Northern Ireland player, taking part in all 10 group games and he is the only member of the squad to have featured in the last 11 matches when the team have remained unbeaten breaking a record that had stood since Billy Bingham's time in charge.

Norwood's agents are working hard on his behalf to ensure that the midfielder gets the move he needs to move forward with his club career.

He started out as a kid at United and had loan spells at Carlisle, Scunthorpe and Coventry before leaving Old Trafford to join Huddersfield.

Next came a move to Reading, where Norwood has impressed.

He was hoping to get promoted with them to the top flight but Reading missed out on that particular ambition and as a result sacked manager Brian McDermott.

Norwood has the ability to play in the Premier League and Hull and Burnley want him to do it with them.

They feel he would be a major asset in their fight to stay up.

Celtic would also fancy him as they seek a sixth Scottish Premiserhip title in a row and a place in the Champions League group stages.

New Celtic boss Rodgers has always been drawn to players comfortbale with the ball at their feet and Norwood comes into that category.

The Carnlough is determined to bring quality to the Glasgow club and entertainment to the fans who became disillusioned during Ronny Deila's reign.

Celtic are scheduled to play in the second qualifying round of the Champions League on 12 or 13 July with Rodgers intent on taking the Hoops through to the lucrative group stages.

He will need to use all his persuavive powers to land Norwood, who is keen to make a mark in England's top flight.

Tonight Norwood will be out to deliver another composed performance for Northern Ireland against Slovakia in a friendly just over a week before they take to the field in Nice for their first Euro 2016 group clash against Poland.

Belfast Telegraph