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Celtic to assess Northern Ireland bosses Michael O'Neill, Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon for Deila's job

By Steven Beacom

Ronny Deila’s imminent departure from Celtic will lead to the Glasgow giants assessing a number of candidates from Northern Ireland to replace him.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed in February that Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill  was amongst those being considered by the Celtic board to take over from Deila in the summer. The names of his compatriots Neil Lennon and Brendan Rodgers are also likely to appear on that shortlist.

Celtic’s dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat to Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday has all but put paid to  Deila’s chances of staying at Parkhead beyond this season.

The Celtic hierarchy are not planning, however, to ditch him until the end of the campaign, by which time they should have won the Scottish Premiership title.

Former Manchester United boss David Moyes, who has his own Ulster connections, is the favourite with the bookies to become the next man at the Parkhead helm but like ex-Liverpool supremo Rodgers would prefer to resume his managerial career in England.

Moyes, whose late mum Joan hailed from Portrush, has been linked with the vacant job at Aston Villa, who were relegated from the Premier League at the weekend.

Whether or not he would be tempted to take charge of Celtic, where he once was a player, remains to be seen, even though  they look certain to qualify for the Champions League.

With five league games left, Celtic are eight points ahead of Aberdeen at the top of the table but another title - the club's fifth in a row - won't be enough to satisfy the fans.

After seeing their side fail to qualify for the Champions League group stages and then finish bottom of their Europa League group, Celtic fans wanted a domestic treble from the Hoops but defeat to Ross County in the Scottish League Cup last four followed by the weekend loss to Rangers has left them frustrated and angry.

Deila arrived in Glasgow in 2014 following a successful spell with Norwegian outfit Stromsgodset.

He won the title in his first season in charge, as well as the Scottish League Cup, but with Rangers returning to take on the Bhoys in the top-flight next term, many Celtic fans are demanding a change.

Some would welcome a return for Lennon, who Deila replaced.

In his reign at Celtic, Lennon was a hit domestically and in Europe. Having left Bolton recently, Lennon is also readily available unlike his friend O'Neill, who is taking Northern Ireland to the Euro 2016 finals in the summer.

O'Neill is under contract with the IFA for the next four years and any club who want him would have to pay £750,000 in compensation.

Others linked with the post include former Celtic heroes Henrik Larsson and Alan Stubbs plus Owen Coyle, currently managing Houston Dynamo in America.

Roy Keane is also high on the betting list with Martin O'Neill, previously in charge at Parkhead, viewed as an outsider. Both will be at the Euros in June with the Republic of Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

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