Celtic are closely monitoring the situation of United States national team defender Mark McKenzie, The Daily Record has reported this week.

Following the departure of Jozo Simunovic at the end of last season and Neil Lennon’s switch to a viable back-three formation, the Hoops need to find competent centre-halves this summer.

The manager is currently able to call upon Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer but beyond that duo lacks senior players who can perform naturally at the heart of the defensive line.

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Youngster Stephen Welsh is training and preparing with the first-team down in England right now but has made just one appearance.

One potential solution, The Record reports, is McKenzie.

Capped once by the USA, he’s emerged as a defensive talent from Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer where he’s made 36 appearances (Transfermarkt).

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Still just 21, he has plenty of room to improve and intriguingly is reported by the paper to be available for less than £1m this summer.

Clearly that puts him right in the club’s budget, especially in a transfer window where spending may be reduced because of challenges related to the ongoing pandemic.

In the quest for ten-in-a-row, it could be viewed as something of a risk to bring in young, cheaper players but Celtic have a track record of polishing rough diamonds into accomplished European-level stars.

Reported Celtic target Mark McKenzie

Reported Celtic target Mark McKenzie / (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

If the club have ambitions to sign more than one central defender this summer then McKenzie has a profile that suggests he could add viable depth to our defensive line.

However, in our search for an outright first-choice centre-back, we arguably need a player with a bit more pedigree and, preferably, the experience of making a push for trophies.

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