'It can only be good' - Exclusive: McNamara reacts as offer for Celtic forward reported

Jackie McNamara says that Celtic are right to keep young striker Karamoko Dembele at the club amid interest in his signing.

The former Hoops and Scotland defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says the 16-year-old would be best off training with the first-team than being thrown in the deep end elsewhere.

It is reported that Neil Lennon’s men have turned down a loan offer from League One side Gillingham for the promising attacker after his rise into the first team this season.

McNamara says that at such a young age it is too soon to be sending him out to play on loan and that just being around a title-chasing side will help his development.

Asked if the Hoops were right to turn down Gillingham’s reported bid, McNamara told Football Insider: “Yeah, he’s still very, very young to go out on loan.

Neil brought him on last week late on but I think there might be a time if he’s not featuring in the first-team they’ll let him out to see how he handles it.

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“Just now they’re still having him around the first-team all the time. I think it has been (a good learning opportunity), at the end of the season he got a game against Hearts before the final. It can only be good.” 

Dembele made his debut for the Bhoys last season in a 2-1 win over Hearts, coming on at half time to play 45 minutes.

He has featured twice since the start of the 2019/20 campaign, playing 18 minutes in the Europa League clash with Cluj and five minutes versus Ross County earlier this month.

In other Celtic news, McNamara suggests a senior Bhoy could push for a late exit.