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Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Friday, 25 February 2011

Celtic aim to keep Georgios Samaras and Mark Wilson

Celtic striker Goergios Samaras
Samaras has scored six goals for Celtic this season

Manager Neil Lennon is confident striker Georgios Samaras and right-back Mark Wilson will stay at Celtic.

"Negotiations are on-going and I think we are getting close to getting Georgios signed," revealed Lennon.

"He has fantastic attributes and he wants to be here, so hopefully we can get that done.

"I spoke to Mark this morning and we are very pleased with his form and again we will try to get him bedded down before the end of the season."

Greek international Samaras, 26, moved to Celtic on loan from Manchester City in January 2008, helping the Glasgow club to clinch the Scottish Premier League title.

He made the switch permanent during the summer, signing a three-year contract, which is nearing its end.

Lennon hopes to keep Samaras & Wilson

Welsh teenager Adam Matthews will join Celtic for next season and South Korean international Cha Du-Ri also plays at right-back but Lennon is anxious to retain Wilson.

The 26-year-old was signed from Dundee United in 2006 and won his first Scotland cap as a substitute in this month's Carling Cup win over Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, Lennon is looking forward to crossing swords with Ally McCoist next season but knows the Old Firm rivalry prevents him wishing Rangers' manager-in-waiting the best of luck.

It was confirmed this week that McCoist will take over from Walter Smith in the summer.

And Lennon is certain that McCoist will cope with the move in to the hot seat - with or without his good wishes.

"It's a great honour for him," he said. "The club means a hell of a lot to him.

"I would like to wish him well but obviously being the Celtic manager it is a bit difficult to do that.

Celtic full-back Mark Wilson
Wilson has been in excellent form for Celtic this season

"But it is a job I'm sure he has longed for a while and I'm sure he will make a good job of it.

"He has learned from a great manager, he has international experience, he has been at Ibrox for three seasons so he has earned his stripes.

"He might bring a different vibe to the club than Walter but Walter has made the template which he will follow.

"It is a big responsibility. The buck stops with you at the end of the day.

"He will have to answer the criticism that comes your way but he will know all that and he will know the Old Firm environment better than most people so I don't think the transition will be too difficult."

SPL leaders Celtic are eight points better off than Rangers, who have two games in hand.

And Smith's side will have at least two extra games to play this season after their 3-3 aggregate away goals win over Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League on Thursday.

A backlog of fixtures for Rangers may hand Celtic an advantage but Lennon was in no mood to hypothesise on the season's run-in.

"It was a great result for Rangers," said the Northern Irishman.

"They have two extra games and if you had asked Walter before the game if he would have taken that he would have said yes.

"Whether it affects us in the long term I don't know.

"But I'm not concerning myself with Rangers, there is no point asking me about what they are doing. I don't want to answer questions about what they are saying or how they are going about their business."

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see also
Matthews to join Celtic in summer
25 Feb 11 |  Celtic
Celtic 'product' satisfies Lennon
20 Feb 11 |  Celtic
Strachan backed Samaras to star
03 Jan 11 |  Celtic
Lennon hails 'unplayable' Samaras
02 Jan 11 |  Celtic

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