McCourt ready for first-team role

PA Sport
Paddy McCourt wants to break into Neil Lennon's starting line-up
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Paddy McCourt wants to break into Neil Lennon's starting line-up

Celtic winger Paddy McCourt has been playing in a deep midfield position for much of pre-season but it is a different kind of central role he craves.

McCourt arguably made the most crucial single intervention last season for Celtic when he came off the bench at Fir Park in November with his side 15 points behind Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Rangers.

Celtic were drawing 1-1 with second-placed Motherwell until McCourt embarked on one of his direct and skilful runs to set up Gary Hooper for the winner.

That was the start of a 17-match winning run in the SPL for Celtic but McCourt only made three substitute appearances during that sequence as a mixture of a niggling injury and, mainly, an inability to force his way into Lennon's line-up saw him play a peripheral part.

McCourt said: "I'm hoping to play as much as possible. I don't think I played that big a role last year through one thing or another. I'm hoping to contribute a bit more this year."

The Northern Ireland international would be happy to drop deeper in order to get a game.

"I don't really mind to be honest," he said. "I know it's a cliche to say 'as long as I'm in the team' but I genuinely mean that. If the manager sees me playing there then I've no problem playing there.

"I haven't played that role that much but I started to play it towards the end of last season and the start of this. The more I play it, the more I'm getting used to it."

McCourt has been linked with a move away during most transfer windows with Blackpool consistently showing an interest but he has not had any offers this summer.

"It's early yet," he said. "The manager or (chief executive) Peter (Lawwell) haven't come to me and said there any offers or anything. Until that happens there is no decision to make."

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