Celtic in race to land Ghana star Wakaso

CELTIC are racing against the the clock to bring winger Wakaso Mubarak in on loan in time to play in Wednesday's Champions League play-off against NK Maribor.

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Wakaso Mubarak is a target for Celtic ahead of Wednesday's clash with NK Maribor in Slovenia
Wakaso Mubarak is a target for Celtic ahead of Wednesday's clash with NK Maribor in Slovenia

The Ghanaian international moved from Espanyol to Russian club Rubin Kazan for £5.25million last summer. But, after lengthy negotiations with his club and his representatives, the Hoops believe they are getting close to securing a loan deal for the pacy 24-year-old.

If they can get everything agreed, and international clearance, the man who played at this summer's World Cup finals in Brazil could become Celtic's wildcard signing for the play-offs.

Ronny Deila and his squad fly out to Slovenia tomorrow morning - unless CAS decide tonight to support Legia Warsaw's request to have the ties postponed. And the manager is eager to add another attacking player for the first leg of their tie against Maribor. Cameron Jerome was offered the chance to move to Celtic Park, and the 28-year-old striker's club, Stoke, were willing to sell for £2m.

But Jerome has indicated he wants to continue his career in England, and Norwich were last night linked with an approach for him.

It was a blow to Deila who had previously lost out in his attempt to sign Nancy midfielder, Jeff Louis, and who had identified Jerome as the player who could add the power and pace he wants in his attack.

But Celtic have been working on a handful of possible deals - though reports they are in for Lucerne's Remo Freuller have been dismissed by sources at the club -  and it now looks like Wakaso will be the final name added to the squad for the vital play-off ties.

Deila confirmed Aleksander Tonev and Jason Denayer were both signed by the initial squad registration deadline, and that a wild-card place is still available.

The manager is keeping his fingers crossed they can make full use of this and said: "We are working well now on that. We know what we want - and I hope we can make it happen."

Any signing would have to be completed and registered with Uefa 24 hours before the first-leg tie.

The loan signing from Manchester City, central defender Denayer, is in line to start in Slovenia after scoring on his Hoops debut in the 6-1 hammering of Dundee United.

Deila confirmed Efe Ambrose will miss the first leg because his red card in the game against Legia in Warsaw saw him handed a two-game ban. He sat out the return against the Polish champions, and will be unavailable for the tie in Maribor.

James Forrest faces a race against time to be ready for the return match at Celtic Park a week tomorrow after pulling up clutching a hamstring in the closing minute of Saturday's victory.

Adam Matthews, who was scheduled to start the game against United but who was replaced by Ambrose at right-back after complaining of a calf problem during the warm-up, is also a serious doubt for this week's game in Slovenia.

Meanwhile, Derk Boerrigter - an unused sub in the crushing win over United - has accepted the two-game ban handed to him by the SFA for diving to win a penalty in last week's league win against St Johnstone.

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