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Football: ALAN'S A MAHON FOR THE BHOYS!; O'Neill eyes Blackburn loan star as replacement for Lubo.

Byline: EWING GRAHAME

CELTIC are keen to take Republic of Ireland playmaker Alan Mahon to Parkhead as a replacement for Lubomir Moravcik.

The 23-year-old is on loan from Sporting Lisbon to Blackburn where, ironically, he's been keeping Parkhead reject Eyal Berkovic out of the team.

He joined the Portuguese giants from Tranmere on a Bosman transfer last summer but despite playing against Real Madrid in the Champions League earlier this season, he struggled to make his mark in Lisbon and moved to Ewood Park on loan in December.

Since Graeme Souness signed him he's been practically an ever-present for the promotion-chasing First Division outfit but the Dubliner, who has three years left on his contract with Sporting, is keen to be part of Martin O'Neill's Celtic revolution.

Although Moravcik has been offered a new one-year deal - which allows him to quit at any time - the Slovak has yet to accept. He'll also be 36 in June and O'Neill realises that younger blood is required.

Souness yesterday left the Irishman out of his squad for tonight's vital visit to Grimsby Town, claiming he had a hamstring injury but it's believed the player was heading north for talks with the Scottish champions.

Although Blackburn are also keen to make the move permanent, it's believed Mahon would prefer to join Celtic in a deal which would cost around pounds 1.5m.

Celtic striker Chris Sutton has been ruled out of this Sunday's final Old Firm clash of the season at Ibrox with a knee injury and the 28-year-old must now be an injury doubt for the Scottish Cup Final against Hibs on May 26.

The pounds 6m signing from Chelsea has been plagued by toe and knee problems all season and missed Sunday's championship party against Hearts after twisting his knee on training on Friday.

A scan yesterday showed that the damage was worse than initially feared and he's now set to be out for at least three weeks.

Sutton, who has already had to sit out 15 matches this season, now faces a race against time to be fit for the final leg of the Treble.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 24, 2001
Words:354
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