NEIL LENNON fears Celtic's lucrative mining of hidden gems is going to be harder than ever this summer because other clubs are getting in on the act.

The Hoops boss and his scouting network have already dug up diamonds in the rough - including Victor Wanyama, Gary Hooper and Virgil van Dijk.

The strategy is to remove the rough edges and sell them on for big money.

This has allowed the club to make massive profits on their player trading during Lennon's four years in charge.

However, he reckons their strategy is now being copied by others and that the competition for fresh talent is increasing.

Lennon said: "We're already looking at a few players we like. And, with the league now settled, it gives me the space to go out and look at a few under consideration.

"But, whether we can keep on unearthing little gems, or big gems, is another matter.

"Our strategy has worked, on the whole. But other clubs are now looking at our model and trying to copy it.

"And you can't always get your signings right. You just hope your record of good ones outweighs the bad because it's such a crucial part of the job."

Lennon would prefer to keep his best players, and not have to oversee another rebuilding job on the scale that presented itself last summer when Hooper, Wanyama and Kelvin Wilson were sold for over £20million.

But, he knows the predators will again be circling and told "I think there will be suitors for a couple of our big players. And one or two are coming out of contract, so you would have to expect they will be leaving.

"Realistically, we have to expect another decent turnaround, with a few going out and few coming in.

"Bids are all but inevitable for a couple of our players, it's just whether we accept them or not.

"But everyone has their price and we're preparing with that in mind, looking at other options for the positions concerned."