EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke

Celtic face competition from Cardiff City and Bristol City to sign Middlesbrough striker Britt Assombalonga this summer, Football Insider understands.

The 26-year-old’s future is up in the air as Boro struggle to stem losses after spending big in previous windows without being able to secure promotion back to the Premier League.

A Celtic source has told Football Insider that Assombalonga is firmly in their sights but they have learned they are battling with Championship promotion hopefuls Cardiff and City to get him before next month’s transfer deadline.

This comes after Football Insider revealed earlier this week that Celtic are plotting a raid on Middlesbrough for the prolific forward.

Hoops manager Neil Lennon has made a new striker one of his top priorities this summer as he looks to add more goal potential to his team and take the strain off last season’s top scorer Odsonne Edouard.

Assombalonga has been in action for DR Congo at the Africa Cup of Nations and Boro boss Jonathan Woodgate has revealed he will not return to pre-season training until the end of next week.

The forward has an outstanding scoring record in English football, netting 115 times in 278 matches for Boro, Nottingham Forest, Peterborough United and Southend United.

He has finished as Boro’s top scorer in each of his two seasons at the club following his £15million move from Nottingham Forest in the summer of 2017.

Assombalonga scored 16 goals in 46 matches for Boro last campaign, netted 30 times in 69 Forest matches and was even more prolific for Posh in League One, scoring 33 times in 58 appearances.

In other Celtic news, it can be REVEALED that a player highly rated by Lennon is heading out of the club after completing a medical and agreeing a long-term contract with elite team.