Former Celtic star Frank McAvennie thinks that Neil Lennon would have preferred Jonny Hayes stayed on at the club with a new contract rather than be let go, speaking to outlet Football Insider.

Hayes’ deal at the Hoops expired at the end of May and he’s currently looking for a new club ahead of the new season.

Although never a legitimate regular starter at Celtic since joining from Aberdeen, Hayes played a worthwhile squad role at the club and last term was clearly trusted by Lennon, who played him in some big matches.

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Most memorably he scored at Ibrox in a 2-0 victory over Rangers.

The left-sided utility man could have been a useful tool as we push for ten-in-a-row but clearly the club felt there wasn’t much value in keeping him on.

McAvennie thinks that will have been driven by Chief Executive Peter Lawwell rather than Lennon and his coaches.

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As quoted by Football Insider, he said: “He never let them down. Every time he played he never let them down. He was never going to get a game every week, he was a bit-part player.

“Peter has obviously had a word with Lenny and told him to get rid of his bit bit-part players and that would have hurt Lenny. But you need to make big decisions like that.

“I know that he liked Jonny as a person and a player. That is because he never let the team or the fans down.”

Because of the ongoing health crisis, there are financial realities for Celtic this coming season that mean we might not be able to have as big a squad compared to previous campaigns.

Lawwell, Lennon and the rest of the recruitment team at the club will be looking to squeeze out maximum value for the resources available.

Jonny Hayes in action for Celtic against Aberdeen

Jonny Hayes in action for Celtic against Aberdeen / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Hayes may have always tried hard and been some of a cult hero with a section of supporters but sentimentality gets you nowhere in football and we have to trust his exit is the best thing for Celtic.

Lennon will be looking for as much continuity as possible going forward so McAvenni may well be right that the manager would have preferred Hayes stay.

However, Lawwell and Lennon definitely appear to be on the same page since his return so it’s unlikely any action has been taken that the boss didn’t sign off on.

Hayes meanwhile looks set to land on his feet, closing on in a return to Aberdeen (The Daily Record).

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