• Premier League

O'Neill downplays Ambrose-to-Sunderland link

ESPN staff
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Efe Ambrose had a nightmare for Celtic during their recent Champions League loss to Juventus © PA Photos
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Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill says he has not spoken with Celtic regarding the signing of defender Efe Ambrose.

Ambrose, 24, joined the Hoops from Israeli side Ashdod in the summer for a fee of £1.5 million.

Taking well to life in the Scottish Premier League, Celtic boss Neil Lennon confirmed a number of European sides were tracking the Nigeria international, despite his poor performance during the recent Champions League loss to Juventus.

However, O'Neill has insisted that Sunderland are not one of the clubs interested in acquiring the services of the defender.

"It's been news to me. I've not spoken to Neil Lennon about Ambrose," O'Neill told the Sunderland Echo.

The Black Cats, along with Swansea and Liverpool, have been linked with Ambrose, who is likely to cost at least £6 million.

Having previously admitted there were potential suitors for the former Ashdod man, Lennon remains hopeful he can hold onto Ambrose, a player he recently described as "brilliant".

"I've got a lot of time for him [Ambrose], I've got a lot of faith in him," Lennon told BBC Radio Scotland. "He just had a bad night [against Juventus]. He's a terrific player and he's got a lot of suitors out there already but he wants to play here and you could see with his performance today [against Dundee last Saturday] that he wanted to rectify Tuesday night."

Celtic, who are currently 19 points clear at the top of the SPL, entertain bottom-of-the-league Dundee on Sunday, with Ambrose likely to start in the centre of defence.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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