CELTIC are bracing themselves for bids for centre-back Carl Starfelt as Brendan Rodgers prepares for his first competitive game tomorrow in his second homecoming.
The Swedish international defender, a £4.2million purchase by ex-boss Ange Postecoglou from Rubin Kazan two years ago, is weighing up his Hoops future, according to a report in The Scottish Sun.
Allegedly there is mounting interest in the 28-year-old defender who became a mainstay in the champions’ central rearguard alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers in the team’s five silverware successes, including the world record eighth treble last season.
UP FOR THE CUP…Carl Starfelt heads clear during Celtic’s 3-1 Scottish Cup Final win over Inverness Caley Thistle at Hampden in June.
His off-field partner, former Celtic women’s player Jacynta, recently joined Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon and that has sparked speculation the Swede may follow her through the Parkhead exit.
An ankle injury forced Starfelt to sit out the 1-1 draw with Wolves at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin at the weekend, but he played the entire second-half of James Forrest testimonial match against Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday night when the hosts came back from trailing 2-1 at half-time to win 3-2.
He is expected to play in the Premiership opener against Ross County at Parkhead tomorrow in the 12.30pm kick-off.
Rodgers is unlikely to welcome offers for the centre-half who still has two years on his contract to run, but, equally, the Irishman won’t keep at unsettled player in his camp.
He paid £4.3million for Polish stopper Maik Nawrocki from Legia Warsaw last week and the 22-year-old German-born defender made his Parkhead debut in the first-half of the match against the Spanish cracks.
SEALED WITH A KISS…Carl Starfelt celebrates his second goal for Celtic as he scores in the 9-0 rout of Dundee United at Tannadice in August. Cameron Carter-Vickers is about to add his congratulations.
Liam Scales, on loan at Aberdeen last season, has impressed Rodgers in his stints in Yokohama, Osaka and Dublin before another excellent showing against the La Liga outfit.
Yuki Kobayashi, signed by Postecoglou from J-League side Vissel Kobe in January, could also be in contention after a few first-team appearances in the previous campaign.
Starfelt played 28 league games last time out and scored his first goal in the 5-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in August.
He followed that up with another in the 9-0 romp against Dundee United at Tannadice two weeks later and he brought the curtain down in fine style with his third strike in the 5-0 victory over Aberdeen at Parkhead in the final league game of the season.