Celtic boss refuses to rule out second offer for Onyekura

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has not ruled out a fresh attempt to sign Nigerian striker Henry Onyekura before the transfer window closes this month.

Henry Onyekuru: Celtic target
Henry Onyekuru: Celtic target

The Scottish champions are understood to have had an initial offer for the 19-year-old, pictured, turned down by his Belgian club Eupen, while RB Leipzig are also believed to be interested in the player.

Rodgers, who saw his team cruise into the fifth round of the Scottish Cup yesterday with a 3-0 win against Albion Rovers in Airdrie, was unwilling to elaborate on any fresh developments in Celtic’s pursuit of Onyekura but did confirm his desire to make further additions to his squad this month.

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“No, there is nothing to add to it,” said Rodgers when asked about Onyekura. “But we have obviously got another week or so to go. I want to add to the squad to keep the freshness and quality. But only if it is the right time and the player is available at the right level of affordability. Then we can look at doing it. If not, I’ll just have to wait until the summer.”

There was plenty to satisfy Rodgers at the Excelsior Stadium where goals from Scott Sinclair, Moussa Dembele and Stuart Armstrong saw off League One side Rovers and earned Celtic an all-Premiership home tie against Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the fifth-round draw.

He was especially gratified by the return of left-back Kieran Tierney following a three-month injury absence and the display of central defender Dedryck Boyata, who deputised for the suspended Erik Sviatchenko.

Boyata has been linked with a move to his Belgian homeland this month, with Anderlecht credited with an interest in him, but Rodgers insists he could still have a longer term future with Celtic.

“Dedryck looked real quality today,” said Rodgers. “What he had to do, he looked like the player I knew when he was a really young player at Manchester City. I saw him play against Didier Drogba when he was young and he was fantastic – strong, quick, aggressive and kept it simple.

“He hasn’t had a chance to play this season, because of how the others have been playing, but in the last few weeks in training he has been great. Today he was really focused, made no mistakes, kept it simple. He got on the front foot and won his headers.

“He can still be a player for me at Celtic, yeah. He has all the attributes I love. He is big, has good spring and he is actually a good defender. The problem in the past has been he’s made mistakes. You can’t make mistakes and that’s about concentration. He was very concentrated and focused today, so now this might be his moment. He’s got the shirt, he has played well, now stay in the team.

“Kieran looked as if he hadn’t been away with the way he played today. You see how dynamic he is on that left side where he and Scott Sinclair have a great combination. The plan was always to give him 60 to 65 minutes, especially on an astroturf field as we had to protect him.

“I thought it was a very good, professional performance from us. We had good tempo right the way through the game. In the first half, positionally we could have been better. We had a lot of the ball and got it back quickly when we didn’t have it. We got it into good areas but didn’t quite produce.

“Albion Rovers defended well but we needed to get the ball to the sides more and have more space on the inside. You could see that in the second half. We got the ball to our wingers, to be aggressive and creative.

“We didn’t slacken off and, as I say, it was a professional performance with not so many scares. You have to have that patience in your game. When you are playing a team who have 11 players behind the ball, it’s tough. But we probed and passed well.”

Rodgers welcomed the outcome of the cup draw, which celebrity Celtic supporter Sir Rod Stewart helped conduct in a high-spirited manner at the Excelsior Stadium after yesterday’s game. “It’s a home draw,” added Rodgers. “It didn’t matter who we played, you always want a home draw. We know it will be a tough game when it comes but it’s a competition we want to win.”