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CELTIC EYE SOUTH AFRICAN DEFENDER

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CELTIC have been linked with highly-rated South African central defender Rivaldo Coetzee.

Brendan Rodgers has admitted he could do business in the transfer market ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League play-off crunch against Astana at Parkhead.

The Hoops boss is eyeing fresh recruits before the close of the transfer window and 20-year-old Coetzee, who has already made 22 appearances for his country, is ready to leave homeland club Ajax Cape Town.

Celtic are keeping tabs on the £1million-valued stopper’s situation with a view to a potential move.

The champions are struggling at centre-back with injured double-act Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko likely to be ruled out until next month.

Rodgers fielded Norwegian teenager Kristoffer Ajer in the 5-0 League Cup win over Kilmarnock on Tuesday, but opted for midfielder Nir Bitton in the anxious 1-0 victory over Partick Thistle at Firhill last night.

The Israeli international’s lack of defensive awareness almost cost the team on two occasions in the second-half.

The Irishman has received good reports on Coetzee who will be allowed to leave the club for the right price – but Ajax Cape Town officials insist they will not sell the cultured stopper to a rival club.

Rodgers is also awaiting word from Manchester City on the availability of fans’ favourite Paddy Roberts, who is wanted for a second spell.

The Etihad giants have yet to decide where the 20-year-old winger will go next having had a previous 18-month loan spell and other options are now also being assessed.

With Moussa Dembele sidelined with a hamstring injury and Leigh Griffiths’ calf issues keeping him out of the starting line-up last night, the Parkhead gaffer is also stepping-up moves for frontmen.

Initially, Rodgers asserted he was satisfied with two main attackers, but he admitted: “I will definitely have to look at it a little closer.

“My vision is to have two strikers available and fit, pushing each other. If there’s an unavailability and it’s consistent, then I need to seriously look at that.

“The guys are doing great for us, but the dynamic of the team is obviously better when you have a number nine who can actually play the role.

”We wanted Leigh to give 90 minutes, but his calf was playing up again. That’s always the danger sign.

“You always have to be careful with that, so we assessed it and thought it was maybe too big a risk. He felt fine on Friday morning, so he got his half hour at the end of the game.

“It’s really about the availability of a player. We’ll look to bring in quality if it becomes available.”

Asked if something could happen next week, Rodgers added: “Maybe. It’s something we have been working towards over the course of the last few weeks.”

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