CELTIC boss Brendan Rodgers is confident of signing a centre-half over the next 24 hours.

A swoop for a new defender would ensure he is eligible to play in next week’s Champions League qualifiers, providing, of course, the Hoops overcome Lincoln Red Imps tonight.

The Irishman conceded his team require at least one more central defender ahead of the next round of fixtures.

That means bringing in someone before tomorrow’s deadline or they will not be able to feature in Europe until the play-offs next month.

If the part-timers from Gibraltar are dismissed this evening, the Hoops will face either Astana, of Kazakhstan, or Lithuanian’s Zalgris who drew 0-0 in their first leg tie last week.

Striker Moussa Dembele, a £500,000 purchase from Fulham, is the only business done by the club so far and Rodgers is now expected to spend some more of his reported £10million budget.

Kolo Toure, 35, is a free agent after being released by Liverpool and the Republic of Ireland’s Shane Duffy have been mentioned. When asked about the central defensive situation, Rodgers admitted: “It’s a big concern, but that’s what we have.

“Ideally, we would want to try and at least have one more in by the deadline, all being well. I want it now – but it doesn’t always work out that way.

“Is it realistic? I would hope so. It won’t be the fault of this club if not. The club are looking to do everything they can to support my needs and what I want.

”We inherited a huge squad and we know we need to trim it. At the same time, we have to add quality and that’s the key. The market is slow due to the types of players I want to bring in.

“I don’t want any player, I want the right player who can give us quality. I will never stockpile players for the sake of it because we have a good bunch here, anyway, and are current champions. For us to take a step forward, we need to cut numbers and then I need to add a little bit more to it.

”But it’s always about the right availability and affordability – and it’s also about timing.”

Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata have yet to begin pre-season training and are looking at a month before they could realistically be considering for the first team.

Out-of-contract Charlie Mulgrew has been linked with Championship side Sheffield Wednesday and Rodgers was forced to pair Efe Ambrose and Erik Sviatchenko in the middle of his rearguard last week.

The Nigerian international bore the brunt of most of the criticism at the loss of the only goal of the game.

So, the new Hoops gaffer is fully aware of the importance of getting the right man in – but he is running out of time.  

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