Lawrence tipped as ideal replacement for McGeady

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The Independent Football

Daryl Murphy has backed Liam Lawrence to deliver the goods if his former Sunderland team-mate joins him at Celtic Park.

Lawrence has long been tipped to move to Celtic and the Stoke midfielder expects the initial interest to come to fruition if Aiden McGeady completes his move to Spartak Moscow. The winger looks set to sign for Spartak this week after holding talks with the Russian club and saying his farewells to his Celtic team-mates.

Although Murphy admits any team would miss McGeady's trickery, he feels Republic of Ireland team-mate Lawrence could add something different to the team. "I know Liam from my time at Sunderland and he's a very good player," said Murphy, who joined Celtic this summer from the North-east club. "He will give a bit of balance on the right side of midfield. He's a hard worker and is a very good at deliveries, and pops up with a lot of goals. There are a lot of names being linked with the club, but if it was to come off it would be a very good signing."

Although McGeady and Lawrence play in the same position, Murphy does not believe there are too many similarities in their styles. "They are two totally different players," he said. "Aiden can go past people at will. Liam gets the ball and crosses the ball, which is sometimes what you need when you're in the box. But of course, Aiden will be a huge loss if he does end up going."

The Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, admitted on Sunday that he was resigned to McGeady departing. But Lennon hopes that Paddy McCourt can have a similar impact on matches as the Russia-bound winger if he can maintain a decent level of fitness.

The Northern Ireland international scored several sublime goals last term after being virtually anonymous in his injury-hit debut season at Parkhead. McCourt has only started five Celtic matches but he recently signed a new three-year contract and Murphy is in no doubt he can help atone for the loss of McGeady.

"I've always known of his ability," he said. "I played against him a few years ago in the Under-21s. And when I was playing in the League of Ireland, he was playing for Shamrock Rovers. Everyone knew about his ability, people would talk about it. Since I've been training with him, you can see it's there.

"He's been unfortunate with injuries since he came here but he looks to be flying in training and touch wood he keeps injury-free," Murphy added. "He has got everything you need in a player. Sometimes you just stand back and admire his skill because you don't realise how skilful he is until you actually train with him. If he keeps fit and gets a good run of games, I'm sure he will be a quality player for us."

Nikica Jelavic has reiterated his desire to join Rangers, but admits that his long-term goal is to play in the Premier League.

The Rangers chief executive, Martin Bain, is back in Austria attempting to finalise a deal with Rapid Vienna, who are reportedly holding out for a £4m fee for the 24-year-old striker.

Jelavic said: "The Scottish league is stronger than the Austrian league and Rangers are a great club. But I've always been honest and I've never hidden my desire to one day play in the English Premier League because it is the best in the world.

"At this moment I remain a Rapid Vienna player and a professional. I want to do the very best I can for this club until someone tells me otherwise."

Rapid's sporting director, Alfred Hoertnagl, is adamant there is still a lot of work to be done. He said: "There are still too many points that are open, even from the player's side. I don't want to make any comment about sums or fees."

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