Brendan Rodgers spoke to the media today, in the run-up to tomorrow’s game, and he confirmed what most of us already know; he’s pretty relaxed about the squad at the moment. He knows that he’s probably going into the tie with the same players, but he believes in his players and they believe in him.
You can tell he is disappointed in a way – everyone knows he would have loved to have Patrick Roberts in the squad – but he’s getting on with it.
But Celtic is not finished in the transfer market. Not at all.
Brendan made it plain; there are certain areas of the team where we need to be stronger.
I still believe Patrick Roberts will be a Celtic player again.
We all know the interest is real, that the club is set on having him back here.
We also know he’s set his heart on a return.
Manchester City has yet to decide whether they want to hang onto him long term or not, and in the meantime a loan move is being mooted. But they would prefer he not return to Scotland. Our qualifying for the Champions League would make a major difference in that regard. It would give him the platform the club believes he needs, at least for now.
Other positions will be filled.
It’s no surprise to see us linked with a left-back today; that slot badly needs a second player in it. I don’t believe Brendan can be happy with having only young Ralston available to cover if Kieran gets injured. The idea of Hayes playing at left back doesn’t appeal at all, although, as Rodgers has pointed out, he’s played there for Aberdeen when the need arose. But you want players who are naturals in those spots, and I think Brendan would prefer that.
The idea of us signing a striker is also being discussed; a short-term loan deal for someone like Ings would be idea in that regard. It has to be someone with the heft to get into our first team squad but not someone we would want to have on the bench too much.
That’s why this idea has a certain appeal for Brendan and for the club.
Tomorrow night is going to be tense, but I can honestly say it would be no less tense if we had made a “wildcard” signing, because that player, whoever it was, would not have played any part in the game, and may not even have featured in the second leg.
We have the stuff to get through these matches with the squad as it stands; I have no doubts on that score at all. Brendan clearly feels the same, but he knows bigger tests lie ahead. It’s clear that both he, and the club, are looking towards those.