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McGinn Bhoy-ed by Celtic exodus

Celtic's Northern Ireland duo Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt were given a massive boost yesterday thanks to a Parkhead exodus.

The Hoops offloaded four players across the border with Barry Robson, Willo Flood and Chris Killen all linking up with Gordon Strachan again at Middlesbrough, while Gary Caldwell headed to Wigan.

McCourt and McGinn — the former in particular — have found opportunities limited due to the players that boss Tony Mowbray has had at his disposal.

Despite turning in some very impressive displays, McGinn has been on the periphery of the Celtic squad, with Robson keeping him out of late.

However, the former Dungannon Swifts and Derry City winger and his ex-Derry team mate McCourt will now jump up the Parkhead pecking order, giving them and international manager Nigel Worthington a lift with the Northern Ireland boss having expressed his concern that not enough of his squad were playing regularly for their clubs.

Central defender Gary Caldwell was expected to be part of the group making the move to the Championship in England with Middlesbrough.

Caldwell, though, found the lure of the Premier League too great to turn down and decided to head further south to join Wigan Athletic.

The 27-year-old Scotland international has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal to move to the DW Stadium for an undisclosed fee.

The Latics were in dire need of a defensive shake-up having conceded 41 goals in 19 Barclays Premier League games this season and boss Roberto Martinez described his new recruit as “a commanding defender”.

“Gary is a leader and he is exactly the right character we need,” said Martinez.

“He has been part of a winning team at Celtic and brings with him great experience, having won league titles and cups and played in the Champions League.”

Caldwell described leaving Celtic as a “wrench” but was persuaded to move to the DW Stadium by the enthusiasm and drive of Martinez.

“The manager made it quite clear what his ambitions are for this club and how much he wanted to bring me here,” he added.

“To play in the Premier League has always been an ambition of mine but I know how tough it's going to be to get in the side and I need to focus on winning a place and doing the best I can for my new club.

“It's a massive wrench for me to leave a club like Celtic but I want to thank the club and all the fans for the support they've given me in my time there.

“But I'm a Wigan player now and I can't wait to get started in the Premier League.”

Belfast Telegraph