Lenny set to deal in Celts' star performers

Neil Lennon is set to reward at least three of his squad with bumper new contracts.

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The Parkhead manager is looking to tie up goalkeeper Fraser Forster on a permanent basis this week, but he also has more players in mind he would like secured on new deals.

Lennon's main focus is on securing Celtic's first title in four years – and with that looking certain after Rangers being docked 10 points for going into administration – he will look to maintain the nucleus of his team.

While he was reluctant to name those whom he would like to offer improved contracts, it is believed that the likes of Gary Hooper, Victor Wanyama and Adam Matthews will come into consideration.

"There are at least three players that I would like to give improved contracts to," said Lennon.

"I think they have done extremely well this season, but a lot of what we want to do will depend on the outcome of the season.

"I don't want any distractions between now and the end of the season, so we won't be spending a lot of time in contract negotiations or anything like that.

"We'll put it on the back burner because right now, our whole focus is on the games that we have coming up."

Meanwhile, Lennon also insists that there is no issue between himself and striker Antony Stokes.

The Irishman has not started the last three games for Celtic, but Lennon played down any perceived significance of the player being left on the bench.

"We pick a team to win games and there is no problem at all with Anthony," he said.

"I had planned on putting him on against Inverness but just as we were thinking of that, we were reduced to 10 men which obviously changes your plans.

"He may feel a little bit aggrieved because he has been playing well and he's having a good season, but he'll start a fair few games between now and the end of the season."

Stokes has scored 17 goals in all competitions this season, with strike partner Gary Hooper sitting on the same tally.

While Lennon has lauded their contribution he has also urged others to appreciate the efforts of Georgios Samaras.

"There is good competition between Gary and Stokes, but it is relatively friendly," said Lennon. "They play for the benefit of the team rather than for themselves, which is important.

"They dovetail well together but at the same time I think you have to remember that Georgios Samaras has been a big player for us as well this season.

"He brings something else to the team and his contribution is overlooked a lot of the time."

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