Celina to turn down Kosovo call to face Plymouth

Bersant Celina in action against Portsmouth.

Bersant Celina in action against Portsmouth. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna says Bersant Celina has turned down an international call-up to stay with the Blues during a crunch period.

Celina's family had to flea Kosovo during a period of war when he was a child and he has always made sure he's been available to proudly represent them in competitive games.

However, the 30-cap international has opted out of upcoming friendlies against Burkina Faso and Switzerland to be involved in Town's home game against fellow League One play-off challengers Plymouth next Saturday.

“My understanding is that Bersant’s had some communication with the federation and made it clear that he really wants to stay next week and wants to be involved in a couple of important games that we have,” said McKenna, whose side are at fourth-place Oxford United tomorrow afternoon.

“As I understand it, he’ll be staying with us and available over the next couple of weeks.”

Speaking further on the 25-year-old, who is on loan from French second-tier club Dijon, McKenna said: “I’ve really enjoyed working with him. He’s a player who I knew from his time as a youth player at Manchester City, from playing against him originally when I was at Tottenham when he was maybe 16 or 17 and had just come across from Norway.

“As people can see on a matchday, he’s a fantastic talent from a technical point of view. He’s a boy who loves his football, wants to have the ball at his feet and wants to be on the pitch.

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“I think he’s definitely got more to come. We’ve been working really hard with him and he’s been working really hard behind the scenes on different aspects of his game, improving his work off the ball and developing his effectiveness in the areas we can get him in and trying to add more effective numbers to his game in terms of goals and assists.

“I think that’s a project that’s still ongoing. We’re really happy with the goal that he got against Burton where he made the long and dynamic run into the penalty box and was able to finish off a move.

“We’ll keep working with him, trying to develop him. He’s got a good level of experience now but I still think there is more to come and he’s certainly a player who is hungry to improve his game."