Celtic close in on loan deal for Aston Villa star Stephen Ireland

Celtic hope to receive clearance to pursue a six-month loan deal for unsettled Aston Villa star Stephen Ireland within the next 48 hours.

As Sportsmail revealed 10 days ago, manager Neil Lennon wants to add star quality to his midfield by luring the Republic of Ireland international north.

Last week, Lennon watched the player make a rare start in Villa's 3-0 defeat to Liverpool following an unsatisfactory summer switch from Manchester City.

Exit ahead: Stephen Ireland looks set to leave Aston Villa to join Celtic

Exit ahead: Stephen Ireland looks set to leave Aston Villa to join Celtic

The success of Celtic's pursuit will be dictated by a meeting between Ireland's agents and Villa owner Randy Lerner on Thursday.

Lerner will be asked to foot half of Ireland's £68,000-a-week wage before sanctioning a move to Glasgow.

Ireland quit international football in 2007, but posted a Twitter message this week admitting he may ask coach Giovanni Trapattoni for a comeback to enhance his hopes of securing a move to another Barclays Premier League side.

Foot the bill: Celtic want Villa to pay half of Ireland's £68,000-a-week deal to complete the temporary switch

Foot the bill: Celtic want Villa to pay half of Ireland's £68,000-a-week deal to complete the temporary switch

Excluded from Gerard Houllier's long-term plans, Ireland sees a benefit to joining Celtic and an international return.

He said: 'If I can't get a move in January, I need to look at the summer and playing for Ireland will at least put me in the shop window.'


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