Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is well aware that it is always easier to build from a position of strength. After his team moved five points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Premiership table with Wednesday’s 2-0 home win over Partick Thistle, he revealed that he hopes to bolster his squad with further signings before the first-team squad heads to Dubai for warm-weather training early next month.
He also expects some of his fringe players to leave the club during the January window, either permanently or on loan deals. Defender Erik Sviatchenko, who suffered a knee injury during a Champions League tie against Rosenborg on 2 August, has not featured since then and is now behind Dedryck Boyata, Jozo Simunovic, Kristoffer Ajer and new signing Marvin Compper in the Parkhead pecking order.
The 26-year-old hopes to return to the Denmark squad in time for the World Cup finals in Russia but cannot achieve that until he is playing regularly.
Similarly, Costa Rica full-back Cristian Gamboa’s prospects of appearing on the biggest stage of all with his country would be boosted by consistently playing first-team football.
He has made only two appearances for Celtic this season, the last of which came in the 3-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in Germany on 18 October.
“There will naturally be players who have not been playing who’ll be looking to move on to get games,” said Rodgers. “Central defence was an area we wanted to strengthen so, obviously, there will be fewer opportunities for some guys.
“Virtually everyone in the squad knows their situation. I always try to stabilise the emotion of players so they know where they’re at.
“It allows the players and their agents to get on with trying to organise moves. It also allows them to come in every day knowing where their future is and how hard they need to work. If it’s here, great; if not, they need to prepare for the next move.
“So it’s going to be constant over the course of January. We’d like to have the players we want in before we head to Dubai [in the second week of January] and the club are great at tying moves up.
“But getting new players is not always the answer. Last year was brilliant for us because we actually gained a couple of players. This is a time when some of them can takes steps forward. Last year Nir Bitton and Dedryck Boyata jumped forward for me and we gained from it. I expect the same this year and if we can add a few players that would be great.”
Rodgers also revealed Partick midfielder Gary Fraser had waited after his side’s defeat on Wednesday to perform an act of contrition after he recklessly drove the ball into a group of Celtic fans in the 85th minute, striking one in the face.
“I haven’t seen it again as of yet but, when I was coming down the stairs after the press conference, he was there,” he said. “He actually waited to apologise to me. I said to him: ‘You can’t be doing that!’ but at least he was man enough to make the effort. He said: ‘I didn’t mean to do that; I had actually meant to hit the advertising boards’.
“I said: ‘Well, you have got to work on your shooting then.’ But if he says that then I’m sure it’s something he won’t do again.”