BRENDAN RODGERS insisted he doesn’t have any fears as he reacted to news Matt O’Riley had been linked with Inter Milan.
The stylish midfielder, a key man for the champions, was named as a target for the Serie A club by Sky Sports Italia.
Reports indicate Inter want 22-year-old O’Riley on an initial LOAN deal before they make up their mind about whether they should make the move permanent at the end of the season.
The Hoops hierarchy are highly unlikely to even listen to such an offer for the player who signed a new four-year contract just three months ago, as CQN reported.
WALKING ON AIR…Matt O’Riley celebrates his ninth goal of the season against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. Mikey Johnston is about to join the celebrations.
Rodgers said: “I don’t have any fears over any of the players. I’m delighted for Matt, he’s made a fantastic step forward this season as a Celtic player and in his career.
“That shows the focus and mentality from training he’s taking into games.
“He will always attract the interest of teams. But I don’t have any fear, he’s a good guy who works very, very hard. When you do that, you’re always going to have interest.”
Asked if his transfer plans in next month’s window had altered following back-to-back league defeat from Kilmarnock and Hearts, Rodgers, speaking to Sky Sports, answered: “No, I’ve been very clear from when I came in. For me, it was about observation for this opening period.
“Sadly we’ve had players missing which has been a challenge, but that’s provided opportunity for other players.
“Across the board, it’s been a chance for me assess where the squad is at, but the feelings haven’t changed in the last week or so. I know where we needed to strengthen in the summer and I know where we need to strengthen in January and next summer.”
Looking back at recent setbacks, the Irishman admitted: “It was clearly very disappointing, but it’s really about reinforcing the strengths of our game and the importance of playing to those strengths.
“It’s been a good week for reflection, but you do your talking on the pitch and that’s where we’ve done our work. We’ll look to bring that positivity into the game tomorrow.
“It’s all in your results. It’s pretty clear if you see the stages of the game when the tempo was up and down, that’s about desire and mentality.”
A BIG HAND…Brendan Rodgers encourages his Celtic players from the touchline.
Rodgers added: “The group are a fantastic group of players, it’s not a slant on any individual. It’s what’s required at a big club.
“When you prepare as well as they do and you can take that work rate and mentality – you have to have that – at a club like this it’s about consistency and bringint hat to the game.
“That’s part of finding out what it’s like to play for Celtic. You can have no drop off.
“From that first whistle going, you have to have that intent and ambition and desire to win the game. That brings your tempo up and for us, the tempo, especially at the beginning of the game, was nowhere near the level we would expect.
“So, that’s been our very frank, open conclusion on it and we look to be better going forward.”
The first hurdle before the winter break comes tomorrow at Parkhead where Livingston are the visitors. It’s a must-win for the title holders after their recent stumbles.