BRENDAN RODGERS is poised to poised to strengthen his Celtic defence in the January transfer window.

But the Hoops boss insists it is bad luck rather than flawed forward planning is the cause of the problems which has seen Jozo Simunovic joining fellow centre-back Erik Sviatchenko on the sidelines.

The Bosnia stopper will miss today’s Betfred League Cup semi-final against Hibs with a recurrence of his hamstring injury.

And Rodgers admitted it has reinforced his need to add cover in the New Year.

He said: “It’s definitely an area I need to look at now. In the meantime, we move on with the players we have and we’ll always look to find a way.

“Jozo just seems to pick up these niggles and knocks. It was the case before he came in as well, but it’s definitely an area of the pitch where you need stability.

“Erik is back in training, but won’t be ready for the game against Hibs.


“Jozo’s is similar to what it was before and could be two or three weeks.”

Belgian defender Dedryck Boyata has returned to the team in recent weeks after suffering a knee injury in pre-season.

But Rodgers is adamant the failure to add defensive recruits in the summer isn’t the cause of a problem which has forced him to use Nir Bitton and Mikael Lustig as stand-in centre-halves this season.

He added: “You’re always open to criticism as a manager if you don’t have a ready-made replacement like they do in the computer games, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that

“The unfortunate thing for us is that it hasn’t just been one player who’s been affected – it has been two and sometimes three at a time who have been out.

“I’m also one who will give young players a chance. I’ll look from within and see what we have. What’s frustrating, of course, is the instability that can bring.

“That’s why you need to have a systematic approach where one goes out and another comes in and they know what they’re doing. But you have to keep your door open for young players.

‘It’s also about the availability of the right type of player because I don’t want to stockpile players and bring one in just for the sake of it.

“Of course, if someone was to tell me that all of my central defenders would be unavailable for a certain amount of time, then I would have had to consider signing someone, but I’m a developer of talent and that’s one of my loves of being in Scotland.

“I love the notion that I can groom young players, improve them and then put them into the team. If you just keep buying players then you lose the opportunity to do that.

“So, it’s unfortunate, but we have to make do and we’ll see what January brings.”


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