Celtic hopeful Samaras will agree new deal

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The Independent Football

Celtic assistant manager Johan Mjallby is hopeful Old Firm hero Georgios Samaras will remain at Parkhead beyond the end of the season. The striker's current contract is set to expire this summer and reports suggest he has rejected a 12-month extension because he was seeking a longer deal.

Mjallby was thrilled to see the Greek forward back on top form with a double as Celtic defeated rivals Rangers 2-0 at Ibrox earlier this month. And the Hoops' assistant claims discussions remain ongoing with the player, who could yet pledge his future to Celtic.

Mjallby said: "The club and Sammy are in talks. I would be delighted to see him stay. He's on form again. He's one of those players who is a bit of an enigma. When he's on-song, he is unplayable for a defender against him.

"Now and then it's hard to get the best out of him but lately, especially against Rangers, he has been really, really good.

"It's probably going to be down to him whether he stays or not. I hope so and I think so. We are still in talks."

Meanwhile, discussions are continuing between Celtic and Brann Bergen over the transfer of Norwegian forward Erik Huseklepp. Mjallby said: "Negotiations are ongoing. I don't know really what's happening upstairs. That's not really my job anyway. But we are interested in him and we are in talks so we will see what happens.

"Before the transfer window opens, you always identify different targets and hopefully this is going to come good for us and we sign him. If not, then we have to go for other people."

Celtic have already secured Nottingham Forest defender Kelvin Wilson on a pre-contract agreement. He is keen to move to Glasgow this month but Mjallby does not expect the player to join before the summer, as planned.

He said: "It would be brilliant to have him here already. But I don't think that's going to happen because it's in the hands of Nottingham Forest. It's in their hands if they want to keep him until the end of the season and I think that's the case right now."

Next up for Celtic is the visit to Hamilton in the Premier League, before travelling to Hibernian at the weekend. And, with the opportunity to extend their lead at the summit to 10 points before Rangers even have a chance to kick a ball, Mjallby insists no other incentive is needed to win both those games. He said: "It's always better to have the points on the board than be chasing the points."