Exclusive - Celtic have joined the hunt for Crystal Palace midfielder James McCarthy, and are confident of securing his signature despite competition from a number of Premier League clubs.
McCarthy left Everton for Selhurst Park last summer, and enjoyed a strong season under Roy Hodgson, but it's understood that Palace are open to offers for the Ireland midfielder.
Having exclusively reported on Monday that four Premier League clubs have made enquiries about the 29-year-old, 90min has now been informed that Scottish champions Celtic have entered the picture, and believe they are well-placed to beat Leeds, Newcastle, West Ham and Aston Villa to the punch.
A boyhood Celtic fan, McCarthy has never hidden his ambition to one day play for the Hoops. He admitted in October that he has 'always wanted to play' in an Old Firm derby, and he may now get the chance to fulfil that dream.
Neil Lennon's team have held a longstanding interest in his services, but until now, they have never had the chance to make a deal happen. They now feel they can do so, however, and have contacted Palace to get the wheels in motion.
McCarthy is anxious to explore the opportunity, having been recommended to the Parkhead team by former Celtic player Shaun Maloney, who played with McCarthy at Wigan.
McCarthy played for Celtic as a youth player, but joined Hamilton in 2006, where he would go on to make a first-team breakthrough before earning a £4.5m move to Wigan. The Latics were managed by Roberto Martinez at the time, who incidentally now works with Maloney in the Belgium setup.
He has become the Hoops' main target, as they seek to reinforce their midfield for a tilt at a tenth successive title. Middlesbrough's Paddy McNair is considered an alternative if a deal proves unviable.