BHOYS TRIO SIGN NEW DEALS

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CELTIC have received a major boost on the eve of Saturday's Scottish Cup final with the news that Johan Mjallby, Tom Boyd and Shaun Maloney have signed new deals at the club.

Mjallby, who is the only one of the trio expected to start the final against Hibernian at Hampden Park, has signed a two year extension to his deal which will keep him at Parkhead until 2004, while Boyd, who has just had his testimonial, has signed a new one-year contract.

19-year-old striker Maloney, who made his debut against Rangers last month, has committed himself to the club for another two years.

Celtic manager Martin O'Neill paid tribute to the contribution each of the trio had made to a remarkable season for the Bhoys as they try to complete the treble with victory in Saturday's final

"Johann's had a really great year for us," said O'Neill on the club's official website.

"When I arrived at the club, he was just coming back from Euro 2000 with a niggling injury and was on the bench for the next couple of matches.

"But he's made that central defensive position almost his own. He's adapted very well indeed and has put his effort and determination into developing his own game.

"He also knows himself the standards he's set and, as we bring in better players, he will be looking to improve."

O'Neill also feels that veteran defender Boyd, who was out-of-contract next month, can still offer something to the club.

"Boydy deserves another year," said O'Neill.

"I'm not in the business of handing out contracts for the sake of it because I've a budget to work within.

"If he has the same sort of input as he has had this season I'll be more than delighted. I'll be more than happy to have Tommy to call on when the occasion calls."

The former Leicester City boss was also delighted by the impact made by the exciting talent of Maloney, who broke into the first team at the end of the campaign.

"He's done very well so far and I just hope that he continues to make the same kind of progress over the next few months and years," said O'Neill.

"If he keeps developing and grows an inch or two there's no doubt that he's got as good a chance as any of making the grade here.

"If he continues to be in first-team contention over the next six months we can resume contract talks again. But at the moment I feel that the important thing for him is a bit of stability.

"He knows that he's in my plans but I'm well aware of the pitfalls of young lads coming through, making a big impact and then failing to build on that," added O'Neill.