JONNY Hayes has revealed he had expected to be offered a contract extension by Celtic before the coronavirus outbreak after holding positive talks with manager Neil Lennon and his assistant John Kennedy.

And the Republic of Ireland internationalist admitted the financial uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic could rule out a potential return to his former club Aberdeen.

Celtic confirmed on Saturday that the winger, who they signed from their Pittodrie rivals for £1m back in 2017, and Jozo Simunovic, the centre half who has spent five years in Glasgow, would both be departing.

Hayes, who scored against Rangers in a Premiership game at Ibrox in September and featured in both Europa League wins over Lazio, told talkSPORT yesterday that he had anticipated being kept on before football was suspended back in March.

“I’d spoken to Neil Lennon a couple of days before the Rangers game back in December,” he said. “He was aware I was out of contract in six months and he wanted me to stay.

“As the season we went on we had similar conversations and he was quite keen for me to stay. He saw me as part of his plans. I had the same conversation with John Kennedy.

“So, when it comes down to the decision being made this week, I don’t know whether the financial impact the coronavirus has had on Scottish football has contributed to it or not.

“But I know that I wasn’t leaving the club, sort of being phased out, and was still playing regularly from the bench coming on or in the team until this virus struck.”

Hayes was a popular player at Aberdeen and he has been linked with a return to the north-east club since he announced on Instagram on Friday night that he was going to be leaving Celtic.

But the 32-year-old is unsure if they will be able to make him an offer due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“I’ve always loved Aberdeen,” he said. “It’s been an option before, I don’t know if it would be an option now. Previously, when I was out of favour at Celtic, there was talk of going back there on loan.

“I just don’t know, the current climate in Scottish football, you can’t just say ‘I want to go there’ because it might not happen.

“The club you want to go to, for example Aberdeen or Motherwell or wherever, the club might struggle with finance over the next six months.”