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RODGERS’ EUROPEAN STAGE

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BRENDAN RODGERS is determined for Celtic to make an impact in the Champions League next season.
And the Hoops boss will attempt to strengthen his squad with two or three quality signings during the summer.However, the 44-year-old admitted it will be difficult for the champions to progress to the knock-out rounds of Europe’s premier club competition or the Europa League due to the spending power of their rival clubs on the continent.He said: “We want to quality, first and foremost. That will always be a challenge.
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“Then we have to try and see what we can do. You have to be careful and recognise where we are. We’re 10 times behind budget-wise. You have to be realistic.“The gauge for us is to measure calmly once we’ve qualified. We would like to be in Europe for the second part of the season, whatever competition that’s in, and that’s a huge, huge ask for a club like ourselves.”Rodgers, though, confirmed he has total backing of major shareholder Dermot Desmond and chief executive Peter Lawwell and admitted he was pleased to repay the faith of both men with the treble.He added: “A big thank you to them because without them giving me the opportunity to manage, I wouldn’t be here.

“But they are clever guys – they knew what they were getting!”
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The former Swansea City and Liverpool manager, who was appointed last May, admitted the past 12 months had taken its toll and he was in need of a break.

However, he promised he would be raring to get back into things when he returns for pre-season training next month ahead of the opening Champions League qualifiers at the start of July.

Asked if it had been a draining campaign for him, he replied: “That’s what it’s like as a manager, at clubs like Liverpool and Celtic, where the expectations are huge and you have to win.

“Throughout my career, because of my journey, there have always been critics. I’ve always had that, every job I’ve been in.

“There will be critics for this one, as well. But that’s the nature of it. We just have to work well and in victory always have humility. Always keep the players’ feet on the ground.“We will have a rest now. I’m tired. It’s been a long season, lots of mental and physical effort put in by everyone. We need to rest now and come back refreshed.“I want to impose a way of playing and working which doesn’t just happen with a click of the fingers.
“So, yeah, it’s the pressure which is always there. You just manage it and cope with it. But then there is a part of you which has to press the reset button.”
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SUMMER TEST FOR RODGERS AS CELTIC AIM HIGH IN EUROPE

Brendan Rodgers won’t be resting on his laurels after Celtic clinched the treble in an historic season which saw the Hoops go unbeaten in all domestic competitions. The former Liverpool manager couldn’t have dreamt for a better start to his reign at Celtic Park and is already planning for next season.

Aberdeen and Sevco Rangers have a huge gap to fill in order make a serious challenge for the Premiership in 2017/18 and the bookies are in no hurry to start encouraging bets on Celtic winning the title again despite having priced up all divisions south of the border.

No matter who Rodgers brings in, Celtic are expected to be offered at unbackable odds. In fact, it’ll be much easier to make money betting risk free at matchedbets.com even though the Hoops already look certs for the title next season.

Rodgers is understood to be on the lookout for a couple of signings to help make a splash in Europe next season but will be equally keen to hold on to key performers who have caught the eye of on looking scouts and managers.

The number one priority is a high class midfielder and the search is on for a dynamic box to box player who can pull the strings in the Champions League.

Stuart Armstrong’s contract expires next summer and Rodgers’ immediate priority is to secure a new deal for the 25-year-old midfielder who has been an important cog in Celtic’s success this term.

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Loanee Patrick Roberts heads back to Manchester City with a decent prospect of returning to Parkhead on a permanent basis. Rodgers would like the 18-year-old back for another loan spell but he’s understood to face competition from German sides Hoffenheim and Schalke and is likely to be evaluating other options as a fall back.

Newcastle United are looking to upgrade their squad following promotion to the Premier League and locally, Chronicle Live is reporting Rafa Benitez has an interest in central defender Jozo Simunovic. The 22-year-old has attracted many admirers including West Brom, Burnley, Swansea and Crystal Palace but Benitez is keen to test Celtic’s resolve with an £8m bid for the Croatian.

Simunovic has emerged as Rodgers first pick at centre-half. The boss has already identified the need add to the back line so will be keen to hold on to the youngster who has overcome terrible injuries to establish himself as a first team regular.

The club have been open that they can’t compete with the huge salaries available in the Premier League. It will be a feather in the cap of Rodgers’ negotiating skills if he can keep Armstrong and Simunovic on board while strengthening other areas of the first team. While the summer transfer dealings are unlikely to impact on Celtic’s dominance of the domestic scene it could be crucial if the club is to take a step forward in Europe.

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