Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers last night maintained he is still in the hunt for a wild card signing for this week’s Champions League qualifier – despite yesterday’s arrival of Kolo Toure.
The 35-year-old Ivory Coast international was expected to finalise terms on a one-year deal with the Scottish champions last night. However, speaking after his team’s drawn International Champions Cup encounter against English champions Leicester City, Rodgers said Wednesday’s third round qualifier against FC Astana in Kazakhstan will come too soon for former Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City defender Toure.
“I’d probably be looking more towards the weekend, give him some game time against Barcelona to assess where he’s at before the following week,” stated the Irishman.
“He’ll need to stay and work. All being well, he’ll get a good week’s training.”
As Toure will not be named in the Celtic squad for the Astana encounter, the rules permit the club to add a player on a “wild card” basis as long as the signing is completed 24 hours before Wednesday’s first leg. Rodgers did not rule out the possibility he could exercise this right. “That’s something that we need to wait and see. We’ve got some work going on behind the scenes so, hopefully, we can get some business done,” he said, confirming the wild card berth was still up for grabs. “It’s obviously going to be tight, we leave Monday afternoon,” he added.
The Celtic manager expressed himself satisfied with his team’s efforts on an afternoon wherein 20-year-old defender Eoghan O’Connell earned them a 1-1 draw with a sleek finish that was almost the equal of Riyad Mahrez’s class finish at the beginning of the second period.
“I was really impressed with the mentality tonight. OK, you want to be on the front foot but when you go behind you want to have the strength to get back in. It was a real good test for us and you can see even at this early stage, players at that level, they come back fit.
“I thought it was a great finish [from O’Connell]. He’s a young player who has got a good idea of the game. I’ve been really impressed with his understanding of the game and he plays the position really well. He wants to defend first and foremost but you can see he’s confident on the ball.”