Celtic forced to hand Ambrose early recall

Celtic’s defensive injury crisis ahead of their Champions League qualifier against Cliftonville at Solitude tonight (kick-off 7:45pm) has led to an early recall to action for Efe Ambrose.

The Nigeria defender was given extra time off following the Confederations Cup.

However, with defenders Adam Matthews, Charlie Mulgrew and Virgil van Dijk injured, plus Steven Mouyokolo signed but not available until the second leg next week, manager Neil Lennon has called upon the services of Ambrose earlier than expected.

“Efe Ambrose is in contention,” Lennon said. “He looks great, he looks in good condition. These guys play almost 12 months a year.”

Midfielder Joe Ledley and striker Gary Hooper are also out with injuries with the latter expected by Lennon to leave the Scottish champions in the next week.

Norwich were reported to have put a Monday deadline on their £4 million bid for the 25-year-old Englishman while QPR boss Harry Redknapp indicated the club were not close to bringing Hooper to Loftus Road, albeit he is a player firmly on their radar.

“Philip Beard (chief executive) has made an enquiry but I don’t honestly know where we’re at,” Redknapp said. “We’re certainly not close to it at the moment.”

Lennon, inset, said: “There are a couple of clubs interested and talks are ongoing but there is no confirmation on anything yet.

“I expect it to go ahead. I don’t know what club or what price but I would expect it to be concluded over the next week or two.”

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