JOHN HARTSON has urged Brendan Rodgers to buy at least three new players if he wants Celtic to make an impact in the Champions League.
The former Hoops hitman insisted the team needs a “freshness” after two years of failing to qualify for the money-spinning group stages under Ronny Deila.
Hartson, who cost £6million when he moved to Parkhead from Coventry City in 201, has identified the trio of positions that urgently need strengthened – central defender, midfielder and striker.
As Rodgers prepares his troops to overcome Lincoln Red Imps’ 1-0 advantage in the Champions League qualifier tomorrow night, the Welshman said: “I’m not quite sure what we’re waiting for. Surely, we should be looking to bring in players right now.
“We’re two or three weeks away from the first game of the season, we’ve got big friendly game coming up and I think now is the time to bring in these new faces to give us that little lift, to take us through to the group stages.
“There are no guarantees of anything. I think we will get through to the next round and I’m hopeful more than confident, we will get into the Champions League.
“Brendan can only improve us so much. We need to bring in some impetus, we need new players. When players come to the club, people around them raise their game.
“I’m sure Brendan Rodgers, when taking the job, would have spoken to the board and said: ‘I need this, and I need that. He’s not’s good enough, he’s not good enough for me. I need to bring players in that are going to be good enough to take Celtic forward.’
“At the moment we are not doing anything. Celtic are not doing anything, we’re not bringing anybody in and I think we need to do that. Brendan needs a little bit of help.
“I think he needs at least three players: He needs a central defender; a creative midfield player and a striker, as well.”
Hartson, who netted 88 league goals in 146 games before quitting the Hoops for West Brom in 2006, added: “The pressure is on in terms of qualifying for the Champions League group stages. Because if Celtic wanted a manager just to win leagues, then Ronny Deila was doing fine.
“But Ronny Deila failed to get into the Champions League in the previous two seasons, once to Malmo in the play-offs and the season before to Maribor.
“It is the big European nights is where Celtic feel they belong. They can’t go three, four years of not having that competition, not having that income of what the Champions League group stages, the TV revenue, the full houses at Celtic Park, the giants of European football.
“We’ve seen it over the years. We’ve seen it with Martin O’Neill, we’ve seen it with Gordon Strachan, we didn’t quite see it with Ronny Deila, but that’s what the fans want.
“That’s why they have brought in a manager of Brendan Rodgers’ calibre.”
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