Celtic rift widens

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The Independent Online
The rift between Pierre Van Hooijdonk and Celtic widened yesterday when the Dutchman hit back at the club's criticism of him.

Tommy Burns, the Celtic manager, warned the 26-year-old striker, who has been called up by the Netherlands for their World Cup qualifying game in Wales on Saturday, to "learn humility" after he asked for a transfer unless he received a wage increase.

Van Hooijdonk has also been accused of refusing to speak to the media and failing to take part in various club activities which he is contractually obliged to carry out, but he said yesterday: "After I opened the papers this morning, I think people are kidding hundreds of thousands of Celtic supporters.

"If you use the press all the time in the way you talk to each other, then that says enough about the situation I think. What's important is that the team is a success."

Van Hooijdonk had an inconclusive meeting with Burns last night. "It was a very short meeting, so nothing was said about the future," the player said.

Ray Wilkins, the former Queen's Park Rangers manager, has ruled himself out of succeeding Alex Miller as manager of Hibernian, but he does want a second month's contract as a player.

"I am not interested in the managerial position," Wilkins said. "I would prefer to take a break from management at present. But I intend returning to Hibs for another month as a player. I spoke to Alex about it after Saturday's game and agreed verbally to stay another month.

"I've spoken to the chairman since then and have agreed to come back. My word is my bond and I have enjoyed playing with a great set of lads at Hibs. But if a new manager comes in and doesn't feel I fit the bill as a player in the short term, then so be it."