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Lennon opens the door for loan departure from Celtic for Luca Connell

The Ireland U19 international midfielder has yet to break into the first-team picture at Parkhead.

Luca Connell was called up to the Republic of Ireland senior squad in May of last year.
Luca Connell was called up to the Republic of Ireland senior squad in May of last year.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

LUCA CONNELL COULD be set to follow in the footsteps of fellow Irish underage internationals Lee O’Connor and Jonathan Afolabi by leaving Celtic on loan before tomorrow night’s transfer deadline.

The Glasgow club’s manager Neil Lennon has admitted that he’s open to the idea of Connell departing Parkhead on a temporary basis in order to increase his first-team experience.

The 18-year-old midfielder signed a four-year deal with the Scottish champions last summer, having come through the ranks at Bolton Wanderers.

However, he has yet to break into the first-team picture at Celtic, with his prospects of doing so hindered by an injury he sustained shortly after his arrival.

Competition for places in Lennon’s midfield became even greater this week following the signing of Ismaila Soro, so Connell may be forced to look elsewhere for opportunities. Reports in the UK have linked him with Sunderland and Barnsley.

“It might be good for him to get out and get some game time,” Lennon told reporters this afternoon when asked about a loan move for Connell.

“He had a thigh injury which kept him out for a couple of months and now he is playing very well in the development team.”

Connell, who has been capped by the Republic of Ireland up to U19 level, received a senior call-up from Mick McCarthy in May of last year.

He broke into the side at Bolton Wanderers during the second half of last season, making 10 appearances in the Championship and two in the FA Cup.

Lee O’Connor and Jonathan Afolabi have already left Celtic for loan spells that will last until the end of the season. Both players moved to the Scottish Championship, with O’Connor heading to Partick Thistle and Afolabi joining Dunfermline Athletic.

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Paul Dollery

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