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Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill is in line to replace Neil Lennon at Celtic with Nick Hammond a long-time admirer of the Northern Irishman, as reported by 90Min.

One of the biggest accusations levelled at Lennon during the grim end to his Parkhead tenure focused on the feeling a talented Celtic side was playing far worse than the sum of its parts.

O’Neill, in contrast, is a coach famed for his ability to eke every ounce of potential out of players at his disposal.

It was he who guided a rather limited Northern Ireland team to Euro 2016 after all, turning a squad of largely lower-league players and grizzled veterans into a tight-knit group capable of grinding out the most unexpected results.

Attracting an elite-level manager: The case for Celtic

Attracting an elite-level manager: The case for Celtic

And during 18 months in charge of Stoke City, the Potters have gone from the bottom of the Championship to within a few points of the play-off places.

So you can see why Hammond, Celtic’s head of football operations, is a big admirer of a man he looked at in 2018 when West Brom were searching for Alan Pardew’s successor (TEAMtalk).

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90Min adds O’Neill turned down the Glasgow giants five years ago, refusing to walk away from Northern Ireland at the time.

Considering Brendan Rodgers would eventually take the job, guiding Celtic to three successive Premiership titles during a period of huge success, it’s safe to assume Hoops fans will have few regrets about how things turned out.

But while things are still going strong at Stoke, could O’Neill be lured north of the border at the second time of asking?

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