JONNY Hayes, the versatile Irishman who helped Celtic to record a famous 2-1 win over Lazio in Rome on Thursday night, has revealed he would be open to prolonging his stay at Parkhead beyond the summer.

However, Hayes, who has been a fringe player since signing on a free transfer from Aberdeen back in 2017, hasn’t spoken to the Glasgow club about a contract extension and admitted he could be deemed surplus to requirements.

The 32-year-old, who netted a late goal in the 2-0 win over Rangers at Ibrox back in September, is something of a cult hero to the treble treble winners’ supporters despite not being a regular starter and they would unquestionably welcome him being kept on.

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Yet, with Boli Bolingoli and Greg Taylor as well as Mohammed Elyounoussi, Mikey Johnston and Scott Sinclair all at Celtic Park at the moment, he appreciates there are no guarantees he will be offered another deal when his current one expires at the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

Asked if he would like to sign a new deal and finish his career at Celtic, Hayes said: “Yeah, but it’s not something that’s been spoken about. I haven’t given it a moment’s thought to be honest. I’ve always been the kind of guy that takes life and football day by day and I’ll continue to do that.

“If I was in the team and helping the team in whatever way possible with all the games coming up over November and Christmas time, the time to talk would be after Christmas.

“But I’m not young and naive. I know how things work in football. Now I’m just taking it day by day and enjoying my football. Because the team is doing well and there is so much to look forward to it’s a brilliant place to be.”

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The former Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Aberdeen winger knows that Celtic fans crave big name and big money signings, but he still feels that he has a role to play for them going forward.

“That’s expected,” he said. "This is a global club and fans, no matter what team they support, always want the best for their clubs. But clubs like this are not in a position to go out and sign £12 million players every time, much as fans of any club would love them to do that.

“Celtic have found a balance over the years, have a great record and the team is always improving. Every fan would like to play Championship Manager and sign loads of players for tens of a millions, but you can’t do it.”

Hayes has become a real big game specialist for Celtic this year; he played in the Europa League meeting with Valencia in Spain in February, came on against Rangers at Ibrox in September, and got the nod to start against Lazio in Italy on Thursday evening.

“It’s nice that the manager has a bit of trust in me for these games,” he said. “We touched on it yesterday and had a chat about it. I played in some bigger games at the end of last season as well and whilst I’m grateful to be on the pitch I’m here any time he needs me.

“When you play in stadiums like Rome and Valencia it’s a challenge because these are not places I have consistently played in unlike Jamesie Forrest or Browny.

“But I’ve never had an issue with being a Celtic player. I’ve played in the league for ten years now and while I picked up a bad injury when I had just started at Celtic I now train and play with these players every day and it feels perfectly normal to me.

“Ever since I moved to Glasgow people have been brilliant with me. I’m not one for going into nightclubs and bars and being all over social media etc. I like downtime with my family and dogs.

“But anywhere I go people are always nice and I’ve never had any negative issues with fans, it’s been a brilliant city for me. I’m happy.”

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Hayes recalled how his last minute goal against Rangers this season had briefly thrust him into the limelight.

“It was funny because I had to go straight in to do my B licence with the SFA on the Monday morning after the game,” he said. “I never really had time to take it in. It felt like a nine to five job doing that coaching course and I’m not used to that.

“I didn’t even really catch up with the messages on my phone until three or four days later. I was so busy. There were a lot of messages. I know now what that goal meant to people. The majority of my friends are Irish and I’ve seen what it meant to them as well.”

Hayes certainly knows the significance of the Lazio triumph to Celtic and their supporters. “We are just delighted to qualify for the last 32,” he said. “The manager spoke to us in the days before the game and mentioned that people were looking on it as a free hit if you like.

“But that wasn’t the case. We are a big club and top of the group for a reason and the manager wanted us to win in Rome.

“We set out to not lose the game first. But the fitness guys were confident we would out-last Lazio and that’s exactly what we did. We showed in the end that we were the fitter and stronger team.”

Hayes added: “We have to keep our feet on the ground. We have qualified now and that’s great. But it’s knockout games ahead now and things can change very quickly.

“We went to Valencia last year and thought we were the better team for the first half hour. But then we lost a man I think and it changed.

“It’s nice now we know we have qualified again and when the knockout games come round again the manager will want to make sure we go into them after winning the group.”