Squad reshaping remains the thorny topic for the manager and the club’s support following Celtic’s elimination from the Champions League qualifying phase by FC Midtjylland in midweek.
The £3.4million attacker Liel Abada was the only summer arrival to feature in Denmark, with £4.5m Swedish centre-back Carl Starfelt preparing to make his debut in the club’s cinch Premiership opener away to Hearts. With Japanese forward Kyogo Fushuhashi expected in Scotland in the coming days following his £4.6m move from Vissel Kobe, Postecoglou’s nudging of his club’s board to quicken the pace of squad reconstruction appears to be inspiring action with the manager “the plan” is bring in further new faces before the Europa League third round qualifier away to Czech side Jablonec on Thursday. Former England keeper Joe Hart, who has dropped down the pecking order at Spurs, and Antwerp right-back Aurelio Buta are two players understood to have been target for problem positions.
“I’m pretty confident [we will get people in the building],” Postecoglou said. “We are all working very hard to get at least one or two into the club by the end of next week.”
Such deals won’t alleviate issues created by the Celtic team appearing out on their feet towards the end of normal time in their extra-time exit in Midtjylland. And the Celtic manager concedes he is limited in his options to freshen up his side for the trip to Gorgie that has assumed even greater importance with the desired start to his tenure eluding him in the Champions League.
“I think that’s fair [to say the team tired badly in Denmark],” he said. “It did take a lot out of them the other night, for some of them it was an enormous effort to play 120 minutes. But looking at them this morning and talking to them, the players have certainly recovered and bounced back well.
“We are limited a little bit in terms of how much I can rotate. We do get Carl Starfelt who is available, and obviously Nir Bitton who wasn’t available the other night, which will help in a couple of positions at least. For the rest of it, we’re going to have to go with largely the same group of players.”
These conditioning issues indicate that uber-manager Postecoglou’s revamping of the club will not be restricted to the first-team squad “People have asked me about bringing my own people in, well, it’s not the coaching area that I think we need that extra support in,” he said. “I think the areas we need are particularly in the conditioning area and the sports science area, we need some more people in to help us. It’s going to be a punishing schedule.
“I’m a big believer in needing to manage your squad of players through that period if you want to play the kind of football we want to play, be a team that plays high intensity, pressurises the opposition and really wants to move the ball quickly then that takes a physical toll. So, looking after the players off the field is really important, and certainly we’re looking to bring in people who will help us in those areas.”