Brendan Rodgers keen to get '˜brilliant' Dedryck Boyata on long deal

Brendan Rodgers has hailed the imminent return to action of Dedryck Boyata and confirmed he wants the Belgian central defender to be the next Celtic player secured on a longer-term contract by the club.

Dedryck Boyata, right, in training at Lennoxtown, will feature against Dundee in the Betfred Cup. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
Dedryck Boyata, right, in training at Lennoxtown, will feature against Dundee in the Betfred Cup. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

Boyata is expected to make his first appearance of the 
season in tomorrow night’s Betfred Cup quarter-final against Dundee at Dens Park. The 26-year-old has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury during pre-season training.

Celtic manager Rodgers reflected on Boyata’s contribution to his team’s undefeated domestic treble last season as “brilliant” and is thrilled to have the former Manchester City man available again for a key period in three different competitions in the current campaign.

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After the trip to Dundee, 
Celtic face Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday in the Premiership before travelling to Brussels next week for the Champions League meeting with Anderlecht.

The Scottish champions have agreed extended contracts with Stuart Armstrong, Scott Brown, Jozo Simunovic and Callum McGregor in the past few weeks and Boyata, whose current deal has less than two years to run, is next on Rodgers’ list.

“He’s certainly one I’ll be looking to keep,” said Rodgers.
“So a new contract is something we’ll be looking at for Dedryck.

“It’s nice to have him back. Since the turn of the year and our winter training break in Dubai, he has been brilliant with me. That bit of sun did him the world of good! He was great that week in training and was then outstanding for the rest of the season after coming into the team.

“It’s a relief for everyone that he’s back – people can stop writing and talking about us needing centre halves. We can move on to something else.

“It’s a big year for Dedryck, with Belgium and the World Cup finals coming up next summer. We want to build him up and help him be involved in that. I always like to have a centre half with real speed in my team and he has that.

“I’m not so sure he can come in and play all of the next three games in a row. It’s more the confidence he has around the knee that you are judging.

“But he’s been back working hard in training for a few weeks, so the next step for him is to get game time.

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“It’s about managing it. Whether he can come in and play the next three or four on the spin, I’m not sure that will be the case. But he’s certainly ready to be introduced against Dundee.”

Rodgers, meanwhile, has admitted his preparations for the crucial Champions League trip to Belgium next week have been affected by Anderlecht’s decision to sack head coach Rene Weiler yesterday after a poor start to the season.

Weiler’s assistants Thomas Binggeli, Nicolas Frutos and David Sesa have been placed in temporary charge, leaving Rodgers uncertain as to what Celtic will face in the Group B fixture.

“It depends what route they go down in terms of management,” he said. “If it’s an interim manager
from the same staff, he may well continue along that road or he may decide to change it.

“If it’s a new manager coming in they tend to have an idea of the ethos of how they want to play.

“Normally if they go in that situation it can revitalise some players and give them a boost or they continue along that vein until something else happens and someone else comes in. We will just have to see where it’s at in a week’s time.”

Weiler left Anderlecht yesterday following Saturday’s 2-2 league draw away to Kortrijk, a result which left the Belgian champions nine points adrift of leaders Club Brugge.

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The Swiss manager led Anderlecht to the Belgian title and the quarter-finals of the Europa League last season in his first year in charge but the club have won just two of their seven league games this term. They were also beaten 3-0 by Bayern Munich in their opening Champions League group game last week.

Rodgers expressed sympathy for 44-year-old Weiler. “I am always disappointed when any manager loses his job,” said the Celtic boss.

“I am never encouraged when a manager loses his job, I don’t think it is nice.

“I don’t get encouragement from it. It is a part of football, it happens and of course they as a club will look to put an interim manager in or put someone else in to see if they can uplift their form.”