Brendan Rodgers is planning on Dedryck Boyata staying at Celtic beyond the closure of the transfer window on Friday night.
The Belgian World Cup defender made a stunning return to action for the Scottish champions when he scored the only goal of their Premiership fixture against Hamilton Accies at Celtic Park yesterday.
Boyata’s selection proved unpopular with some of the home support in the aftermath of his recent absence from the team following his unhappiness with Celtic’s refusal to sanction a move to Fulham earlier this month.
The 27-year-old, who has 12 months remaining on his contract, continues to attract interest from Spanish and Turkish clubs. But Rodgers is now hopeful Boyata will stay at Celtic for the rest of the season.
“I’m not thinking anything other than that,” said Rodgers. “He’s in his last year and you never know how the game works. But, like I said to him, however long you are here – whether it’s a week or the rest of the season – your best place is on the training field and out on the pitch on a match day.
“So we want him there. He’s been a big part of what we have done for the last couple of years. I respect that a football career is short and you have to maximise your playing time. We will see what happens this week but I’m not planning for anything other than Dedryck being here. It was (a) pretty easy (decision) to play him because we’ve been waiting (for him). He cruised the game today because he is a top-class player. We are not a squad which can do without a player of that quality. He made his commitment to the team and was there for his team-mates today.
“He was first class and it was ironic he got the goal. Everything he did was superb and it was great to have him back in there.
“Obviously I’d have preferred a different reaction (to him from the fans) but I’m not going to criticise the supporters. I’ll give credit to Dedryck for how he coped with it and I think you saw the reaction from three -quarters of the ground.
“When you try and redeem yourself sometimes it takes a bit of time. Naturally supporters – and the passionate supporters – look for that commitment in a player. It’s not always about ability, it’s about commitment when they pull on the shirt.
“I always knew if Dedryck put on the shirt he’d be first class. The reaction of three-quarters of the stadium plus his team-mates, I think you saw we’re all together. You do your talking on your pitch.”
Regardless of whether Boyata remains at Celtic, Rodgers continues to search for defensive reinforcements for his squad this week.
He has been linked with Le Havre’s French under-20 international Harold Moukoudi who is also attracting interest from a host of English clubs.
“With the likes of Jack Hendry and Jozo Simunovic injured, it’s a position we’ll definitely be looking at,” confirmed Rodgers.