BRENDAN RODGERS has revealed his plans for the Celtic midfield as he searches for the “complete package”.
The Hoops boss seems content with the pairing of skipper Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley in the team’s engine room, but, in the continued absence of the crocked Reo Hatate, he hasn’t been totally satisfied with the third wheel in this department.
Rodgers has brought in David Turnbull, Tomoki Iwata, Odin Holm and on-loan Paulo Bernardo to give them the opportunity to impress him since the start of the season.
The Scotland international has chipped in with seven goals – three from the penalty spot – but, in the words of the song, the manager still hasn’t found what he’s looking for and the January transfer window may provide the answer.
WINNING AND GRINNING…Tomoki Iwata hugs James Forrest after the evergreen winger had scored the third goal against St Johnstone following an expertly-timed pass from the Japanese midfielder.
Looking ahead to the challenges of a competitive fixture list until the winter break on January 3, the Irishman is preparing for the visit of Hibs tomorrow night.
And there could be a change of role for McGregor during the seven-game schedule with the anchorman pushed forward to free a deep-lying position for someone else.
Pinpointing the middle of the park, Rodgers said: “It’s one of the areas I want to improve in the team. We’ve David, whose strengths – with the greatest of respects – are to play against low blocks when we’re trying to nick a goal.
“Getting around the pitch is maybe not a strength. When you go into Champions League games you need that ability to run. So, then Paolo has played in those games.
“It’s finding that sort of complete package, really.”
THAT’S MY BHOY…Brendan Rodgers congratulates Tomoki Iwata following the 3-1 success in Perth.
Contemplating a more positive role for his skipper, the Hoops gaffer, speaking to The Scotsman, added: “Callum has played in that deeper role for a few years, but moving him is something I’ve thought about.
“Tomo [Iwata] would’ve played in Lazio if he had been available, but sadly he missed out.”
Rodgers omitted the versatile Japanese international, who has also played right-back and central defence since arriving in January, from his original UEFA squad.
Iwata has yet to start for the champions under the Irishman, but has eased into the team on his rare substitute appearances.
He scored his first goal for the club in the 4-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle on October 22 and was instrumental in setting up the killer third counter for James Forrest in stoppage-time in the 3-1 success against St Johnstone in Perth on Sunday.
There could be a place in the starting line-up against the Edinburgh club who held the champions to a scoreless stalemate at Easter Road in late October.