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Lennon calls for Olympic exclusion for all his players ahead of Euro qualifiers

Norwich City 2 Celtic 0.

Page 7

Celtic will request that none of their players are called up for the Olympic Games, because the football tournament will clash with the Champions League qualifiers. Neil Lennon, the Parkhead manager, has already received an assurance from Team GB that none of his British players will be involved.

James Forrest was figuring in the thoughts of Stuart Pearce, the Team GB manager, while Scott Brown and Adam Matthews were also on the list of potential squad members. Forrest is currently recovering from injury, and so may not even be fit enough to compete anyway.

Lennon, however, is adamant that none of his players should be involved because their club commitments come first. The Games take place from July 25 to August 12, during which time Celtic will begin their attempt to qualify for the Champions League group stages, and Lennon wants all of his players available rather than competing at the Olympics.

"Certainly not the British players, we've spoken with Stuart on that," said Lennon. "Forrest will not be going because he's been injured. Stuart's aware of that. He was in his thoughts but the fact that he's been out for so long probably rules him out."

Emilio Izaguirre is in line for a call up by Honduras, while Ki Sung-Yueng could feature for South Korea. Lennon has yet to hold talks with their respective nations, although FIFA rules insist that if players are called up for their country then they cannot choose to play for their club.

"As regards the rest of the [non-British] players, we'll speak to the other federations regarding that and hopefully there will be some sort of resolution where they are playing with Celtic when the time comes," Lennon added.

Lennon has expressed his confidence that he will be able to secure striker Gary Hooper and goalkeeper Fraser Forster on new deals this summer.

Speaking after last night's testimonial against Norwich, he said: "Forster's agent is [at Lennoxtown] today and we are hopeful we can move things on pretty quickly. I have been delighted with him for the two years he has been here and we are hoping we can bed him down for another two or three years. We would like to tie up Gary, too. He is happy here and he has a platform to thrive. He has played European football and has scored in Champions League games, Europa League games and big games in Scotland. Gary is one of our best players and I think he should be paid accordingly. He has been magnificent for two seasons."

Lennon also admitted that he is keen on adding the Rosenborg midfielder Markus Henriksen to his squad ahead of the club's return to the Champions League next season.

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