EDDIE HOWE is still the leading contender to be appointed Celtic's next permanent manager.
That's according to bookmakers Betfair, who've priced Howe at an astonishing 1/16 to be Hoops boss on the opening day of the 2021-22 Scottish Premiership season.
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The 43-year-old remains a free agent having left Bournemouth by mutual consent in August, following their relegation to the second-tier.
The Englishman is reportedly keen on the role at Parkhead.
However, his agent recently revealed that Howe would NOT consider any approaches until the summer.
His representative said: "There has been significant interest in Eddie from a number of clubs.
"However, talks of any deal being close are extremely premature. His plan remains to not return to management until the summer at the earliest."
The Amersham-born coach has been the leading candidate for several weeks and is considered the first-choice option for Celtic.
But he's still not signed and that's cause for concern, according to ex-Hoops star Alan Stubbs, who doesn't see a suitable alternative target.
Celtic Manager on the first day of the 2021/2022 Scottish Premiership season – Betfair
- Eddie Howe – 1/16
- Lucien Favre – 9/1
- Roy Keane – 10/1
- Enzo Maresca – 10/1
- Chris Wilder – 12/1
- Jesse Marsch – 14/1
- John Kennedy – 14/1
- Paulo Fonseca – 16/1
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He told the Celtic Huddle podcast: "If I was Peter Lawwell, Dominic McKay, Dermot Desmond, I’d be quite nervous right now.
"Obviously, it's out there now, it’s public, that Eddie Howe is their number one choice.
"And if this doesn't happen, then the next person who comes in the first question’s going to be 'How do you feel you weren’t number one choice?'
"This is the conundrum, right now there’s no glaringly obvious candidates that stick out."
However, there's new competition in the shape of outgoing Roma manager Paulo Fonseca.
The 48-year-old will be replaced by sacked Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho for the 2021-22 campaign and has entered the betting market at 16/1.
Fonseca, who won three successive titles with Shakhtar Donetsk, has won 50 of his 97 matches in charge of Roma and leaves with a 51 per cent win percentage.
And Duncan Castles of the Transfer Window Podcast recently claimed that he'd been "offered" to both Celtic and Spurs.
Elsewhere the bookmakers have former Borussia Monchengladbach and Nice manager Lucien Favre as the second-favourite at 9/1.
The 63-year-old Swiss boss was most recently at Borussia Dortmund, where he was sacked in December after a string of poor results that included a 5-1 drubbing to newly-promoted Stuttgart.
Roy Keane and Manchester City academy coach Enzo Maresca are both available at 10/1 with ex-Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder further behind at 12s.
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