Coy Brendan Rodgers praises talent of Scott McTominay, James McCarthy

There is a certain code that managers employ when questioned about potential player recruits. Neither confirming nor denying tends to be taken as a sign that there is genuine interest in names raised. Yesterday, Brendan Rodgers was quick to rule out any approach for Yaya Toure. When the Celtic manager was asked about reported loan moves for Manchester United's Scott McTominay and Everton's James McCarthy, though, his flat response was that he had 'nothing to add'.

James McCarthy could leave Everton on loan. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
James McCarthy could leave Everton on loan. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

It remains to be seen if either midfielder pops up at Lennoxtown in the remaining fortnight of the window. There would appear more likelihood of the 21-year-old McTominay being brought north owing to his wages being understood to be less than half of the £50,000-a-week McCarthy receives at Goodison Park.

“There are lots of rumours but nothing concrete,” 
said Rodgers, pictured, of any proposed business.

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“We’ve brought in three boys and Oliver Burke and Timothy Weah have shown up well and already settled into the group. [Vakoun Issouf] Bayo is still going through the paperwork process and, hopefully, will be with us by the weekend. We hope to do some more business if we can but there’s nothing to add to the speculation. Yaya Toure? Well, his brother’s here [Kolo Toure is on the coaching staff at Celtic] but he’s not one we’re looking at.

“Scott McTominay is a talented young player but there’s nothing to add to that and the same goes for James McCarthy. Agents will strategically throw out a name to stick in the papers but then I’ll get a call from them asking me if I’m interested in the player because they read that I was; you know the game.”

The game for Celtic involves adding and taking away with Rodgers having a surfeit of senior players. No fewer than 37 are on the books; many aren’t in his plans. Loan deals to give players on the periphery game time will be sought for Lewis Morgan, Jack 
Hendry, Calvin Miller and Youssouf Mulumbu.

Rodgers appeared to rule out the addition of a new centre back in this window, his reason being that his two first-choice defenders in that position are staying for the second half of the season.

On-loan Leicester City player Filip Benkovic will not be recalled by the English Premier League side this window, while Dedryck Boyata will not be sold despite having no interest in extending his stay in Scotland beyond his current deal concluding at the close of this season.

“To be brutally honest, if we were to bring in someone of the quality we require [in central defence] they would want to play,” Rodgers said. “There are positions we’ll look at but that is one where a couple of our key players will move on and will need to be replaced. Obviously, we have young Kris Ajer and Jozo Simunovic already here. It’s an area of the team we will find it tough to strengthen in January but it’s a must to do that in the summer.

“It’s a possibility that we will spend more [money] in the next couple of weeks. We’ve brought in a couple of loans and a young boy with potential. I’m not sure – it’s down to availability and also to what’s affordable from the club’s 
perspective.

“But I think we’ll look to add to our squad. There are also a few lads we’ll be sending out on loan but there are still key areas we’ve been looking to strengthen over a period of time.”

Celtic won’t be at full strength for tomorrow’s Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Airdrie with Kieran Tierney and Odsonne Edouard still struggling with injury, meaning that Weah is the only recognised striker that Rodgers has available to him this weekend.

Rodgers is hopeful Edouard will be on the mend by next week but was more circumspect on the prognosis for Tierney, who hasn’t played since mid-December as the result of a recurring hip problem. It had been suggested the left-back would require surgery but Rodgers said he hadn’t “been advised of that yet by the medics”.

Tierney’s participation on Celtic’s last 32 Europa League tie against Valencia in a month may be under threat, but the Celtic manager refused to speculate on any timescale for his return.

“Over the next few weeks we will see where we are at,” the Irishman said. “But the pain is less than it was.”

l Scotland captain Andy Robertson has signed a new five-year contract with Liverpool, just 18 months after arriving for £8 million from Hull City.

“I hope to achieve success as a team over the course of this new deal,” he told liverpoolfc.com. “This club demands trophies and too long has probably passed without trophies.”