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New Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has paid tribute to James McCarthy’s ‘exceptional passing range’ amid speculation linking the Crystal Palace midfielder with Celtic, Leeds United and others, while speaking to the Irish Times.

After four years wrecked by a seemingly endless supply of injuries, a former Everton enforcer is approaching something like his best form once again.

And it is no coincidence that, after finding fitness and form under Roy Hodgson during an impressive debut campaign at Selhurst Park, McCarthy is in contention to make his first international appearance since 2016 during September’s Nations League clash with Bulgaria.

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“I’m really thrilled about (introducing McCarthy to the fold again),” says the forward-thinking and ambitious Kelly, who is expected to use the 29-year-old as the sitter in a midfield three.

“He is someone who is extremely talented. He has an exceptional range of passing and I don’t think we have utilised him in his best position a lot. There is more to come from James.

“Hopefully he can stay fit, but he’s very, very excited to come back in and I’m excited to have him.”

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90Min reported earlier in August that Celtic were looking to hand a boyhood Hoops fanatic his dream move.

The Scottish Premiership champions were apparently confident of beating Newcastle, Aston Villa and Leeds to his signature, although it remains to be seen how much Palace will demand for a man who set them back a bargain £3 million in August 2019.

At 35, captain fantastic Scott Brown no longer has the legs to match his footballing brain and, if the veteran’s form at the start of this season is anything to go by, a younger alternative is needed in the centre of the park.

McCarthy would not only help Celtic dominate possession, he would also offer the kind of ferocious energy that was once synonymous with Brown.

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