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Celtic may be prepared to hold off for Larsson

HENRIK LARSSON could yet feature in Celtic's next managerial structure after reports emerged in Sweden that the Scottish champions still want to take him to Parkhead later this year.

Henrik Larsson is thought highly unlikely to go back on his word to Falkenbergs
Henrik Larsson is thought highly unlikely to go back on his word to Falkenbergs

The prospects of the iconic former striker returning to Celtic seemed to end last month when he insisted he would remain with his current club, Falkenbergs, until the end of the Swedish season on November 2. But after the pursuit of Roy Keane, which ended with the Republic of Ireland assistant manager deciding to make himself unavailable, Celtic are still searching for the man or men to replace Neil Lennon and may not have given up on Larsson.

After days rife with speculation over the Keane saga - with Steve Clarke emerging as the latest frontrunner and Malky Mackay and Owen Coyle also among the contenders -there was quiet and little obvious movement in the search for Lennon's successor yesterday.

However, it was reported in Sweden that Celtic representatives had a meeting with Larsson last week, after he had publicly said he would remain with Falkenbergs, and that the Parkhead club may let him honour his contract before taking him back to Scotland in five months.

That would apply only if Larsson was part of a managerial structure which involved others who could take the first team in the meantime, of course, given that all the Champions League qualifying rounds, the first three group stage games, and about the first third of the Scottish domestic season all take place before the end of November.

Larsson is thought highly unlikely to go back on his word to Falkenbergs and will almost certainly honour his contract with them but, if Celtic are prepared to wait the end of the Swedish season, he may be prepared to return to the scene of the greatest years of his playing career.

Last night there was an unlikely endorsement of Larsson for the Celtic job from another prominent Swedish football figure, the former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. "Henrik is Mr Celtic, or was anyway, and he has done well in Falkenberg," said Eriksson. "I think he would be an excellent choice for the club. How long did he play there, almost 10 years? I think it would be a very popular choice among fans. He is still the king in Scotland."

Eriksson himself is not a contender, at least. He now coaches the Chinese club Guangzhou R&F on a £2m-a-year contract. He admitted, though, that he regularly gets asked if he would be interested in the Parkhead job. "It is always the case that now Celtic have no new coach, agents call and ask 'are you interested in Celtic?' It is in itself nice to be one of the names flying around, but I feel good in China."

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