Celtic have hit back at ‘ridiculous and completely inaccurate’ comments by West Brom technical director Luke Dowling about Oliver Burke.
The Baggies’ technical director criticised Neil Lennon’s treatment of the player, who was on loan at Celtic Park from the Championship side.
The Scotland international was signed on loan by former Parkhead boss Brendan Rodgers last January and Dowling was unhappy with the way the 22-year-old was handled by Lennon once he took over.
“Oli Burke will not be going anywhere near Celtic with the current manager,” Dowling insisted.
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But responding to those claims, Celtic said in a statement: “These comments, which question the professionalism of both Neil and Celtic Football Club, are ridiculous and completely inaccurate. West Brom have made no contact whatsoever with either Neil or the club in relation to Oliver.
“As with every player who comes to Celtic, Oliver received the very best of treatment and every support and opportunity. We wish Oliver the very best for the future.”
Burke, who joined West Brom from RB Leipzig in a £15m deal in 2017, scored four goals in 14 games for the club.
Scotland boss Alex McLeish has handed Hibernian striker Marc McNulty his first international call-up.
The forward, who joined Hibs on loan from Reading in January, joins Oli McBurnie, Oliver Burke and Johnny Russell as the forward options amid the absence of Leigh Griffiths, Steven Fletcher and Steven Naismith.
Scotland travel to Kazakhstan for the first of their Euro 2020 qualifiers on 21 March and San Marino on 24 March.
Right-back Liam Palmer has won his first call-up and joins Sheffield Wednesday team-mate Barry Bannan in the 27-man squad, while uncapped Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck has kept his place.
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson, meanwhile, continues as captain.
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Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser and Cardiff’s Callum Paterson are in the squad, but McLeish confirmed neither would travel to Kazakhstan for the first game because of the artificial surface at the Astana Arena.
“This has been an ongoing agreement with club and country – they are not going to play on the astro-turf,” he said.
On McNulty’s call-up, McLeish added: “He has scored five goals in six Hibs appearances. We are short in that department. Marc is a good hold-up player, different from McBurnie and Oli Burke, so that’s given us a little bit of versatility.”
McLeish revealed he found out about McGregor’s international retirement a “couple of days ago” and failed in a bid to talk the Rangers goalkeeper out of it.
The Scotland boss, though, has received positive news on the fitness of Blackburn skipper Charlie Mulgrew and Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor despite current injuries.
On former Scotland Under-21 international Palmer, he said: “I have to be honest, in recent times he wasn’t flagged up but all of a sudden we recognised that Liam was playing extremely well for Wednesday. He was a midfielder and he has been converted to full-back, so there was a little bit of that to discuss.
“The fact he has been playing left-back, right-back, midfield, again it’s a player of versatility.”
Jordan Archer (Millwall), Scott Bain (Celtic), Jon McLaughlin (Sunderland)
David Bates (Hamburg), Scott McKenna (Aberdeen), Charlie Mulgrew (Blackburn Rovers), Stephen O’Donnell (Kilmarnock), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian), Kieran Tierney (Celtic)
Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Barry Bannan (Sheffield Wednesday), John Fleck (Sheffield United), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Callum Paterson (Cardiff City), Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen)
Oliver Burke (Celtic, on loan from West Brom), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Oliver McBurnie (Swansea City), Marc McNulty (Hibernian, on loan from Reading), Lewis Morgan (Sunderland, on loan from Celtic), Johnny Russell (Sporting Kansas City)
Ivory Coast forward Bayo, 22, has also joined from Dunajska Streda on a four-year deal, although he will need time to get up to speed, while the deal to sign 21-year-old Ukraine international Maryan Shved from Karpaty Lviv is set to be finalised next week, although the winger will immediately leave on loan.
Rodgers is content with his options, which will be boosted further by the return of midfielder Tom Rogic – away on international duty with Australia – and injured Scotland defender Kieran Tierney.
“I am happy with the squad that we have,” said Rodgers, whose side are a point clear of Kilmarnock at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership with a game in hand.
“We are open to bringing in players of quality and I think that is what is key for us.
“We have known since the summer what we wanted to achieve but they are not always available and they are not always affordable.
“But whoever comes in or doesn’t come in, we will work with the players we have here.
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“We have a fantastic squad. If another player doesn’t walk in the building we have a fantastic squad.
“Once they are back, Tom is back, Kieran comes back, then we have a fantastic squad of players here.
“Our aim is to continue to focus on ourselves, develop the players and if we can bring players into the areas we would like, absolutely great.
“If not, we will work with what we have got and the players will continue to improve, because it is a very young group.”
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