Brendan Rogers says he is close to sealing another new signing, with Manchester City’s young French midfielder Olivier Ntcham believed to be in his sights.
Speaking after Celtic’s 9-0 demolition of Shamrock Rovers in a pre-season friendly in Dublin, Rodgers was coy about the identity of the signing target.
“The player is in going for a medical, all is going very well at the moment,” the Celtic manager said. “Hopefully that should be announced in the next...” he went on, allowing the sentence to tail off.
Ntcham, 21, is a French under-21 international who has spent the last two seasons on loan with Genoa.
The huge win over Rovers was soured slightly by an injury to Scott Brown. The Celtic captain was withdrawn in 32nd minute but Rogers played down the concerns afterwards, insisting his skipper was fine. “He’s just sore in and around his Achilles but that should be fine, he’ll be fine.”
Celtic were always in control against the Irish side.
“What was really pleasing today is how we defended,” said Rogers. “You can see the intensity and the pressure from the very first minute to the last minute from players defending forward and the hunger to keep a clean sheet.”
Rogers fielded a very strong team, obviously looking to sharpen up ahead of the Champions League fixture with Linfield on Friday night, not willing to repeat last year’s opening game slip up, against Lincoln Red Imps.
“I don’t think I can ask any more of the players,” added Rogers. “I had a really detailed programme ahead of pre-season some played 90 minutes, some of the guys swapped around.
“Scott Sinclair gets 90 minutes today and [James] Forrest comes out. The players are at a good level you can see that in terms of the energy they had in the games I’m really pleased.”
The game itself was straightforward. There was nothing spectacular about any of Celtic’s for first half goals. Mikael Lustig opened the scoring on 10 minutes, firing under Rovers keeper Kevin Horgan’s near post from the edge of the box.
Stuart Armstrong blasted home the second on 23 minutes while Forrest capitalised on slack Rovers defending to roll the ball across goal for a Moussa Dembele tap in five minutes later.
Sinclair added number four, four minutes before the break, Forrest again playing the ball across goal from the left, Sinclair unmarked sliding across the pitch to push the ball under Horgan.
Forrest got himself on the score sheet with Celtic’s fifth just after the hour mark with the best of the day. Under pressure, Forrest wrapped his left footed shot around Horgan and in off the post.
The winger immediately made way for new boy Johnny Hayes who received a rapturous applause from the Dublin crowd. Celtic didn’t take their foot off the gas after Rogers made four changes, Sinclair added number six five minutes later, collecting a long ball and walking the ball into the net.
Stuart Armstrong fired home number seven on 69 minutes before Sinclair crossed the ball from the byeline for Hayes to volley home his first goal for the club since joining from Aberdeen. Tom Rogic headed home number nine minutes from time, Sinclair again the provider.