Exclusive: McNamara suggests future of reportedly in-demand Celtic player hangs in balance

Jackie McNamara suggested the future of Celtic defender Jonny Hayes hangs in the balance with Championship sides keen on his services.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Laura O’Leary, the Hoops legend admitted the club have a difficult decision to make regarding whether to sell Hayes in January as his contract goes in the summer.

It was recently reported that Championship sides Preston North End, Middlesbrough, Stoke City and Cardiff City were all keen on the 32-year-old with him open to a return to England.

Hayes has never hidden his desire to stay at Parkhead but McNamara revealed his future was in doubt as it all depends on whether Neil Lennon sees him playing somewhere other than left-back.

When asked if it’s important Celtic tie Hayes to a new deal, McNamara told Football Insider: “Depends on what Lennon sees him as, obviously, he’s got Boli and Taylor at left-back, depends if he sees him covering any positions further forward.

“He came in and played left-back against Hearts then he got injured, then he got back on the bench and Taylor was left out.

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“I think Lennon will see this as a big window, and you can only use 11 players plus subs so to keep them all happy is difficult.

“Yeah (if decision difficult with teams keen on him) but it depends as they got him from Aberdeen cheaply, so in terms of a transfer fee, I don’t know what he’ll command.

“I’m not sure if Celtic will lose out by keeping him until the summer, it all depends on if Lennon sees him in his plans this season and whether he wants to keep him.”

The versatile Hoops player has often been deployed as a left-back this season across the 19 outings he has managed to make.

Hayes has been at Parkhead since joining the Hoops from Aberdeen in 2017 and has racked up 61 appearances in his time.

In other Celtic news, Danny Mills urged a proven goalscorer to jump at the opportunity to join Lennon’s side.