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RODGERS PLANS AHEAD FOR SUMMER TRANSFERS

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BRENDAN RODGERS will have to contend with the overlap of Champions League qualifiers and the World Cup next summer when at least three Celtic players will be on international duty.

Mikael Lustig, Tom Rogic and Cristian Gamboa will be involved with Sweden, Australia and Costa Rica respectively, while Erik Sviatchenko could be with Denmark if he regains a place in the squad after his injury lay-off.

The finals get under way on June 14 and end on July 15, but changes to the Champions League qualifying process mean the Hoops are likely to be involved in that tournament’s first round on July 10 or 11 and Rodgers has to ensure he has resources at right-back, where both Lustig and Gamboa play.

The Parkhead boss said: “We have to prepare for that in the next window to ensure we’re covered.

“Lustig and Gamboa are both right-sided defensive players, so that’s going to be a key area because we don’t want to be short.

“We will manage our schedule accordingly. We do have Tony Ralston, but it is an area we need to consider going through the summer.

“We have been short in certain areas over the last two summers, so January is a big window for us if we feel we need to do something.

“The Champions League schedule is punishing, to say the least, with eight games in as many weeks.

“Normally, you get a wee breather in there. There are the other games you need to play to get fit and the league might be up and running, so it’s certainly not made any easier for the team which is trying to qualify.”

The World Cup qualification for the lucky trio has had a positive knock-on effect, according to Rodgers.

He added: “I think there is a real feelgood factor there. Everyone is happy for them.

“You would have seen Mikael’s celebrations in the week and he’s come back full of enthusiasm. That’s contagious and it goes around the group.

“Tom Rogic? God, if anybody deserves to be at the World Cup it’s him, given how far he’s had to travel – constantly all around the world.

“Cristian Gamboa will be there, as well, and if Erik Sviatchenko gets into Danish squad the second part of the season, then there’s a chance for him, too.”

 
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