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RODGERS ALREADY PLANNING FOR NEXT SEASON

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CELTIC boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed the club will resist any offers to spend pre-season outwith Europe.

The Irishman is adamant his players cannot afford to be jet-lagged when the Champions League kick off.

Rodgers wants his team to be ready for July’s second-round qualifiers and feels going further afield could hinder their chances of reaching the group stage.

The Hoops gaffer said: “We’re virtually there in terms of planning – it has to be Europe.

“If you’re working in England, then clubs go to Australia and America, which I’ve done before.

“That’s okay when it’s not so critical and the first game of the season is a long way off.

“But with the Champions League qualifiers in mind, then for competitive European football we have to stay in Europe.”

With the Scottish Cup Final due for May 27 – just three weeks before June’s Champions League draw – Rodgers admitted he may be forced to give his international players a well-earned rest towards the end of the season.

Celtic could clinch six-in-a-row as early as next month if they continue their incredible unbeaten run and other results go their way.

Rodgers said: “Of course, the Champions League being so early is a big consideration.

“The international players might only get 10 days off. That’s not much, so giving them a break might be something we have to consider.

“That’s why the January break is so important for Scottish teams. And what I tend to do in-season is give little periodic breaks to players.

“We’ll assess it as we go on. But if we reach the Scottish Cup Final it will be a long season. We have to be ready to go again on June 19.

“The Scotland v England game is on June 10, so we have to think about giving the international boys the longest period of rest we can.

“But even if we do that with one or two, I’m confident about any player coming into the team.

“It certainly won’t take an edge off us because we’re preparing not just for the final part of this campaign, but to keep the momentum going into next season.”

Asked if he would tolerate a natural drop-off after the title is in the bag, he added: “No, we have to push to the maximum.

“We have an obligation to do that – we can’t go soft. We’re here to win and to win in the best possible way.”

 
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