BRENDAN RODGERS has revealed the transfer challenges he is facing as the Irishman scours the market before the midnight signing deadline a week tomorrow.
It’s clear the Celtic boss has to strengthen an injury-stricken squad of players with only three games – against St Johnstone and Dundee at Parkhead and the first derby of the season at Ibrox – before the Champions League kicks off in the midweek of September 19/20.
The second time-around Hoops gaffer is toiling to put the jigsaw together while the likes of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Reo Hatate and Stephen Welsh are added to crocks such as Alistair Johnston and Oh Hyeon-gyu who have yet to kick a ball in competitive action this season,
DERBY DAZE…Moussa Dembele celebrates his hat-trick in the 5-1 win over the Ibrox side in September 2016.
In his first spell, Rodgers snapped up Moussa Dembele from Fulham on a cut-price £500,000 cross-border compensation fee while he paid £4.5million to Aston Villa for Scott Sinclair, a player with whom he had previous experience during his spells at Chelsea and Swansea City.
Both forwards hit the ground running on the team’s way to a spectacular clean sweep of domestic silverware during the remarkable Invincibles campaign.
Asked about how difficult it is to crack England seven years after the initial raids, Rodgers answered: “Very. I think that’s why you see the strategy of Mark [Lawwell] and the guys going to markets that were maybe untouched and the deals you can get in.
“You look at the Premier League or even the Championship. It’s a very expensive market for players and wages.
“That is a real challenge for clubs like ourselves. Coming back here, that was something I had to understand better and why I took that time to decide.”
AIR WE GO…Scott Sinclair celebrates his hat-trick in Celtic’s 4-3 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Boxing Day 2018.
Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “The club has to be sustainable while being successful. But it’s understanding where it is at, in terms of what you can and can’t do.
“I’ll always work with the players the club provides me and try to develop them to be the best they possibly can.
“This, hopefully, makes the club successful and allows them to move on, make money and we go again.”
Celtic have spent something in the region of £14.5million in the pre-season to bring in six recruits, as CQN reported earlier in the week.
That outlay is more than covered with the cash brought in for the sales of Filipe Jota and Carl Starfelt which basically leaves the reported summer transfer war chest of £30million untouched.
The next eight days of wheeling and dealing in a truly demanding marketplace will be extremely interesting.
The clock is ticking.