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Hibs rule out Fletcher transfer

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Fletcher displays his goal-scoring skills against Celtic

Celtic have been frustrated in their pursuit of Hibs striker Steven Fletcher despite making what they describe are "substantial offers" for the player.

Hibs rebuffed an approach on Friday from Celtic to hold talks over a possible transfer for the 21-year-old.

The Scotland star trained as usual with his team-mates on Monday morning.

Hibs boss Mixu Paatelainen has urged Fletcher not to leave Easter Road as he looks to retain the player beyond the 1700 GMT transfer deadline.

"I'm confident he will stay. We had a chat and I told him I don't think it's the right time," said Paatelainen.

BBC Scotland had learned that Celtic were willing to offer a player plus cash for Fletcher, who is under contract at Hibs until 2013.

But, following news of Celtic's interest, Hibs released a statement, saying: "Hibernian FC rejected a verbal approach from an SPL club to discuss the potential transfer of Steven Fletcher. No further discussion is planned."

Fletcher, who has scored six goals this season, missed Hibernian's 1-1 draw with Motherwell due to suspension.

After the match, Paatelainen, responding to questions on Fletcher's future, said: "Eventually in football, there is a time when a player moves on. I don't feel the time is right yet.

"I don't think it's difficult for him to be honest (that the approach from Celtic was turned down); from a players' point of view, he realises he is doing things right."

Last season's Scottish Football Writers' young player of the year, who made his Hibs debut in April 2004, was linked with a host of clubs in the summer, including Real Madrid and Middlesbrough.

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Celtic have made a habit of plundering Hibs in recent seasons, with Fletcher's Scotland team-mates Scott Brown and Gary Caldwell now regulars at Celtic Park.

Derek Riordan returned to Easter Road at the beginning of this season, having left to join Celtic in 2006 but finding first-team opportunities hard to come by.

Meanwhile, Chris Killen made the same move a year later, only to struggle with form and injuries before moving to Norwich on loan this weekend.

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see also
Fletcher shrugs off transfer talk
23 Nov 08 |  Hibernian
Hibs resigned to losing Fletcher
21 Nov 08 |  Hibernian
Fletcher not for Real claim Hibs
04 Jun 08 |  Hibernian
Fletcher signs biggest Hibs deal
06 Dec 07 |  Hibernian


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