Hartson free to leave Celtic, says Strachan

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The manager of Celtic, Gordon Strachan, said yesterday that he will not stand in the way of John Hartson in the summer should the former Welsh international striker feel that his family problems demand a move south.

The 31-year-old has split up from his wife, who has returned to Wales with their two children, and Strachan said: "It's up to him. I think players always decide this whether they have a contract or not."

After Celtic secured the Scottish Premier League title on Wednesday, Hartson said that he might want to leave, despite having a year of his contract at Parkhead still to run.

"I'll be speaking to the manager before the end of the season and sitting down with my family to decide what is best for me, best for them and best for the club," Hartson said. "I have a year left on my contract, so I have a lot to think about.

"If I do go, it will be the hardest career decision I have ever made because I'm working with a manager who is a friend and I have a tremendous rapport with the fans.

"The truth is it would break my heart to leave all that behind. But I also have to keep in mind that I'm going through a divorce and I need to do what is right for my kids."