Brendan Rodgers believes Neil Lennon should be the leading candidate for the Scotland managerial vacancy in the aftermath of Michael O’Neill’s decision to turn the job down.
Celtic manager Rodgers says his Hibernian counterpart and Northern Irish compatriot Lennon would be a “great fit” for the post and has urged the Scottish FA to switch their attention to the 46-year-old.
“They should 100 per cent think of Neil,” said Rodgers. “They should at least ring him to see if he’s interested. Because I’m sure that could be a great fit.
“There have been a number of guys touted for the job but, for me, Lenny has to be the one. The Scottish FA certainly have to ask the question, because he would be a huge success at it.”
Lennon, a former Northern Ireland captain, won five major trophies as Celtic manager before a difficult spell in English football in charge of Bolton Wanderers. He has enjoyed fresh success since his return to Scotland, leading Hibs back into the top flight by winning the Championship at his first attempt last season.
“Neil is tactically good and he will have worked with a lot of the players in the Scotland squad,” added Rodgers.
“He’s got a really good football brain. Yeah, I think they should be certainly seeing if he’s interested in the Scotland job. There is absolutely no question about that.”
Rodgers believes the next Scotland manager will inherit a squad full of potential but was not entirely surprised by O’Neill’s decision to remain in charge of Northern Ireland.
Rodgers said: “From the outside, I always thought Scotland was a very good job but only because of the players.
“I don’t know the day-to-day life of what it would involve or what the scope is to develop. I don’t know salary, length of contract, so there are many reasons why, but it would naturally have to have been a big pull for Michael to have taken him out of his own international team job where he has done so well.
“He has been offered a six-year contract by Northern Ireland and I am sure on better terms. It was going to have to be something very worthwhile for him to leave that.
“There is a great challenge involved in the Scotland job which is a great test to try and get the country to the European Championships or a World Cup. There is a great chance. I have always felt there is a great group of players here. There is an opportunity here.”
Rodgers, meanwhile, confirmed Celtic will seek dispensation from the new Scotland manager to excuse their players from the end-of-season trip to play friendlies in Peru and Mexico on 29 May and 2 June as he looks to maximise their time off before the start of potential Champions League qualifiers on 10 July.
“It’s not ideal,” said Rodgers. “We’ll send a letter to the Scottish FA and it will obviously be easier once there is a new manager in place because then that allows for communication.
“It is not just for Celtic, it is a wider issue for the team that is in there trying to represent Scotland in the Champions League format. You want to have every chance to get in there. “Why? Because you are representing Scotland first and foremost and you are in there as that sole team from the nation. When you qualify, as we have done for the last few seasons now, the money that is generated from that goes to every Scottish club and sometimes that is the most money that they get.
“Of course I am concerned as a Celtic manager with eight players in the Scotland squad but also I am concerned for Scotland as a game. Are you going to break young players like Kieran Tierney? These young players who are coming through, they are not robots. I know that the game is about stats and numbers and tactics on a computer but these are human beings and if you are not careful, you can break them.”