Brendan Rodgers believes Emilio Izaguirre brings “perfect balance” to his Celtic squad at left-back and hopes to retain the services of the Honduran international beyond the end of this season.
Izaguirre, who is out of contract next summer, has been displaced as first choice in the position for the Scottish champions following the emergence of outstanding teenager Kieran Tierney last season.
But the 30-year-old has returned to regular first-team duty under Rodgers following the ankle injury suffered in training by Tierney, which is expected to sideline the young Scot until the end of the year.
The Celtic manager has been delighted with Izaguirre’s response, most recently in Tuesday’s 1-1 Champions League draw against Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany, and wants him to continue providing both competition and cover for Tierney.
“That’s the idea, to have the competition for places at left-back,” said Rodgers. “We have one with experience and one with youthfulness. So it is perfect balance. Emilio has been very good since coming back into the team. It is a testament to how hard he has been working. A lot of the guys who have been playing regularly have got a lot of credit and rightly so. But they have only been so good because there are a lot of guys in behind them who have been pushing them every day. Emilio has come in and played Ross County away, Aberdeen away, Monchengladbach away and showed up very well. I was really pleased with the defensive part of his game on Tuesday. He is renowned more for going forward but he has defended strongly. It is great for him and great for me to have someone like that here.”