Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers: No plans to sign centre-back

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: John Devlin
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Brendan Rodgers has ruled out signing a new central defender this month, insisting he is content to go into European group stage football with his existing resources in that department of his squad.

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The Celtic manager’s firm declaration appears to have ended any prospect of former England defender Steven Caulker, who played under Rodgers at Swansea and has been strongly linked with a move to the Scottish champions in recent weeks, being recruited.

Celtic reached the play-off round of the Champions League without Rodgers’ first choice central defender Dedryck Boyata who is sidelined until September with a knee injury.

Wednesday night’s 1-0 win over Rosenborg in Norway, which secured Celtic’s place in today’s play-off draw, saw them suffer another injury blow when Erik Sviatchenko limped off after just 25 minutes. The Danish international is awaiting the results of a scan which will determine the length of his absence.

Israeli midfielder Nir Bitton filled in for Sviatchenko alongside Jozo Simunovic at the heart of Celtic’s back four at the Lerkendal Stadium and Rodgers sees no need to seek reinforcements, with right-back Mikael Lustig and teenager Kristoffer Ajer also able to play in central defence.

“We won’t be getting someone in,” confirmed Rodgers. “We have Bitton who can play there. If we are talking about in Scottish football and the ball getting smashed up the pitch, then you can have two big guys who can head it.

“But we are not playing that way. We can cope. We have Ajer who’s 6ft 5ins, but he can play. We’ll have Boyata back in September, Lustig can play there. We don’t need to worry about centre half.

“Bitton can play there and the way we play, he can slot in comfortably. I thought he was outstanding on Wednesday night. He had composure and at 6ft 4ins he can compete in the air. He was very good - as was Jozo.

“Bitton is a very, very good player. He’s a controlling player in midfield but in that role we have Scott Brown, and we also have Eboue Kouassi to come in, who is a big talent.

“But I like to have a midfielder who can play centre half. That allows the team to play through and get more attackers on the field. Nir is top class in his work. He’s very good for our squad, he can play a number of positions and he understands how I want to work. He’s someone the players like and he showed his importance the other night.”

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