Celtic set for Irish invasion
THE road to Parkhead is bumper to bumper with Irishmen heading for Glasgow -- and if early summer transfer speculation carries any weight, Celtic will be awash with Giovanni Trapattoni's men come next season.
Trapattoni's easy admission that Celtic came calling and asked whether he would be willing to act as a mentor for Neil Lennon a few months back kicked off the run on the Irish senior squad at the weekend.
Trap turned Celtic and a number of Premier League and Serie A clubs down and underlined his commitment to the Republic of Ireland cause.
But Liam Lawrence now seems likely to become Lennon's first signing when he is confirmed as the Bhoys' new boss in the next few days.
Lawrence is also interesting Mick McCarthy who signed him for Sunderland but sources close to the Irish right winger believe that the lure of Paradise is proving very strong indeed.
Stoke are reported to be looking for around £2.5 million for Lawrence.
"We won't be giving Liam Lawrence away," said Stoke boss Tony Pulis.
"He's been a top signing for this club and a top player in the Premiership. I rate him highly."
Sean St Ledger has also been targeted by Lennon but the Irish centre-back is being courted by Fulham as well.
For Celtic's current crop of young Irishmen, the wait for some certainty on Lennon's future is far from easy, not least Cillian Sheridan who had his spirits lifted by his participation in Trapattoni's training camp in Portmarnock and now wants to go back to Parkhead and make his mark.
"Ideally, what I want to do is go back and play for Celtic. I want to play a bigger part, but it's up to me to perform in training.
"It's a big year for me. I'm back to where I was at this stage last season. I had a year left on my deal then too and I needed to get out and play.
"The only difference now is I've a couple of international caps. I am definitely more confident. I was only an Under-21 player before, but now I have full caps.
Likewise prospect Graham Carey who is attracting interest from the Premier League and Championship but is anxious to sort out nhis Celtic situation.
"I would love nothing better than to become a first-team regular at Celtic," said Carey.
"If there's interest from the Premiership and Championship it's flattering but I'm not actively looking to leave Celtic."