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Ntcham has big call to make after signing new Celtic deal

Livingston v Celtic, Scottish Premiership: Tony Macaroni Arena, Tomorrow, 12pm

Weigh it up: Olivier Ntcham will take time to decide his international future
Weigh it up: Olivier Ntcham will take time to decide his international future

By Gavin McCafferty

Olivier Ntcham will take his time before deciding if he will switch international allegiances from France to Cameroon.

The 22-year-old midfielder was born in Longjumeau, France to parents of Cameroon descent and has represented France at youth level from Under-16s to Under-21s.

After signing a new contract with Celtic which will keep him at the Parkhead club until at least 2022, Ntcham revealed that Cameroon have made contact but that he was in no hurry to make up his mind.

Cameroon manager Clarence Seedorf is looking to build his Indomitable Lions squad for next year's African Cup of Nations.

Ntcham, sidelined with a hamstring injury at the moment, said: "When you make an important decision like that you have to take your time. I want to take (my) time.

"I am playing for France now. We have a tournament at the end of this season (Under-21s Euro Championships in Italy) so that is what I am focused on.

"I am focused on the pitch and if I have to make a decision I will speak with my family and agent."

The 22-year-old French midfielder joined the Hoops in July last year from Manchester City, after a two-year loan spell at Italian club Genoa.

He revealed how he coped with interest from Portuguese club Porto in the summer, saying: "I just focused on the pitch. Everything about that was for my agent and family.

"I came here last season and everything was new for me, I had to look around and speak to the manager and get to know him a little bit more.

"I won my first trophy here so I was really happy for that and we made the decision to stay here."

Ntcham is "delighted" to have signed a new deal with the Scottish champions and admitted that Celtic's dramatic 2-1 Europa League win over RB Leipzig at Parkhead on Thursday night vindicated his decision to continue his career with the Glasgow club and believes they can qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament.

Brendan Rodgers' side have six points after four Group B fixtures but are behind the Bundesliga club on goal difference with an inferior head-to-head.

With maximum points from their first four games, Austrian outfit Salzburg look almost certain to win the group and they have to travel to Parkhead on match day six, after Celtic have taken on bottom side Rosenborg in Trondheim.

Ntcham said: "When I watched the RB Leipzig game I was really proud of my team and we won in the end so I was very happy.

"I expect Celtic to qualify for the knockout stages because I think we can challenge RB Leipzig and Salzburg. I want to score more goals than last year, I want to win more trophies and go far in the Europa League."

Livingston manager Gary Holt, meanwhile, insists his side are more than capable of continuing their rich vein of form against the Ladbrokes Premiership's leading teams by beating Celtic tomorrow.

The top-flight newcomers have already beaten Rangers and Hibernian at the Tony Macaroni Arena, and have held leaders Hearts to a draw at Tynecastle.

The Lions were beaten at Parkhead on the opening day of the new campaign when Holt's predecessor Kenny Miller was in charge, but the current boss, whose team are looking to bounce back from successive losses to St Johnstone and Hamilton, insists they will not be intimidated by the free-scoring Hoops.

He said: "It's about being bold, brave. If you go in with fear they'll never play. I want big players to go and get the ball. Our fans will expect us to go out and have a go.

"We'll press them when we can, I believe we'll create chances but it's about whether we're good enough to take them on the day.

"We've already experienced it because we had the Rangers game on Sky Sports in September, what the whole make-up of the day looks like, the occasion, and they embraced it and that's what we want.

"We know they can do it, it's no different from Hibs or Hearts, it's about being brave. Go out and be positive and work your socks off."

Belfast Telegraph


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