Bhoys close on McManus deal

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Celtic boss Gordon Strachan says the SPL outfit are close to agreeing a new deal with defender Stephen McManus.

The 23-year-old has turned his Bhoys career around after failing to impress under the guidance of Martin O'Neill, and his consistent performances are set to be rewarded with a new contract.

McManus was close to leaving Parkhead in the summer as he grew frustrated at his lack of playing time, but has really come to the fore under Strachan and is now on the brink of committing his future to the Glasgow side.

"Stephen is as important to this club as any player," said Strachan.

"The talks to sign him up have been going well and we're not too far away.

"Stephen only had about three per cent of playing time in the two seasons before this one.

"He has played 90 percent this time and that's a big shift to cope with physically and mentally.

"Stephen is a sponge for information and takes what he can out on to the pitch.

"He's the one who does our talking at the back and he's maturing all the time.

"When you look in his eyes you know he is listening. Guys like Stephen are one of the reasons why you become a coach."

Meanwhile Strachan, who is also hoping to tie down Shaun Maloney in the near future, has stated he is keen to complete all his transfer dealings before the World Cup starts.

Celtic have already agreed to sign Kenny Miller and Gary Caldwell at the end of the season, and Strachan does not want to fall victim to any rush signings after the tournament in Germany.

"I hope to have all my business finalised before the World Cup starts. We have positions we need back up for," Strachan added.

"I don't want to be in the same position as last season when it was a hectic summer."