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McCourt: I’d leave if I wasn’t in Celtic first team

By Stuart McKinley

Paddy McCourt has admitted that he would consider leaving Celtic if he ends up as a bit-part player under manager Neil Lennon.

With Lennon stating himself that he needs to net the title in the new season or face the sack after seeing Old Firm rivals Rangers lift the crown for the last three years, McCourt is ready to prove that he can deliver on a regular basis.

The 27-year-old shone during the second-half of the Bhoys’ |1-0 defeat to Central Coast Mariners in the first game of a three-match trip to Australia, but since his move from Derry City three years ago, most of McCourt’s appearances have been from the bench.

“I'm going to focus on what I need to do in Australia and get myself as fit as possible,” he said.

“If I'm where I was last year in terms of being in and around the squad and playing, I'll be happy.

“If I find myself where I was 18 months ago, then I'll need to address the situation.

“I made 30-odd appearances last year and I'd love to build on that this year.

“I don't think the manager would let me go on loan. I think he sees me as a valuable member of the team. If I was ever going to leave, it would be permanently,” added the Northern Ireland international.

The arrival of Kris Commons in January restricted McCourt’s opportunities in the first team, but he showed previously he has the class to cause serious problems for defences in the SPL.

“Like any other player, I want to play every minute of every game,” said McCourt.

“When Kris came to the club in January, it was another challenge for me. I found myself back on the bench and was disappointed not to be involved.”

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