Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers could report a clean bill of health for his squad ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League visit of Borussia Monchengladbach following his side’s 2-0 victory over Motherwell that maintained their four-point advantage at the top of the Scottish Premiership table.
Midfielders Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton did not feature, with the Israeli and Mikael Lustig having picked up knocks on international duty, while Rogic’s trekking to Australia to represent his country meant Rodgers was not willing to consider him for the Motherwell visit.
“Today was about the squad,” said the Irishman. “I had to leave Tom Rogic out totally. The guy’s been to Saudi Arabia and then on to Melbourne. He came back Thursday morning and as soon as he landed he came straight to the training ground. To be fair to him it’s a long season and we had to make sure he was recovered totally. Bitton and Lustig should train tomorrow and hopefully will be ready for Wednesday. Today was maybe a push too far.”
The absence of Bitton resulted in Rodgers providing Liam Henderson with a first Celtic start in 19 months. The unavailability of Lustig, meanwhile, brought the reappearance of Cristian Gamboa after his debut following his move from West Brom came in the 7-0 blitzing by Barcelona.
“I was wanting to see young Liam for a while because I think he is a talent so I was wanting to get him in and today was a good day for that. I thought he was excellent, tactically and playing with his brain,” Rodgers said. “Stuart [Armstrong] also has come in and done well and young Gamboa hasn’t had a lot of opportunities. His first game was at the Nou Camp which was probably a little unfair really but he has proven in training he is up to speed and I thought he came in and did really well.”
The surprise departure of the club’s head of football development John Park on Thursday, meanwhile, brought a slightly touchy response from Rodgers over the possible successor to the man who has been the club’s de facto chief scout for almost a decade.
Asked if he would be involved in any possible restructuring, Rodgers, inset, said: “Yeah, very much. But that is not for here, that is for internally behind the scenes.
“I put on record my thanks to John, I’ve only been in here a short period of time but he has been in here a number of years so on behalf of myself and the club we thank him for his work here. We now look to put someone in place within that role so we can make the next steps forward.”
Yet when it was put to him whether Rodgers had someone in mind for Park’s role, he snipped: “That’s nothing to do with you. Time will tell, you’ll see.”