Rodgers trusts Celtic squad to deliver against Astana

Manager welcomes back Leigh Griffiths and remains hopeful of resigning Patrick Roberts

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: ‘I said right at the beginning that qualification for the Champions League was primarily going to be done with the players that got us there.’   Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: ‘I said right at the beginning that qualification for the Champions League was primarily going to be done with the players that got us there.’ Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

 

Brendan Rodgers trusts his Celtic squad to book their place in the Champions League group stages without Patrick Roberts.

The Manchester City winger remains top of the Hoops manager’s wishlist following his outstanding 18-month loan stint at Parkhead.

Celtic remain in talks over a fresh loan deal and, according to reports, Roberts has made it clear he favours a return to Glasgow.

Roberts flew out to Spain for a training camp with City on Monday but Rodgers was showing little sign of angst hours before the 11pm deadline to add to his Champions League squad ahead of Wednesday’s playoff first leg against Astana.

“Patrick’s situation is pretty clear,” Rodgers said. “He’s out with Manchester City at the moment. We have a number of targets we’re looking at but there is nothing to report on any specific player.

“For any player the deadline is 11 o’clock tonight but I’m quite relaxed. We know what we want.

“My main objective over the course of this market was by the end of August to have a squad available that was ready for the season ahead.

“We always hoped that we could get one or two in. We got a few in but we need more, there’s no doubt about that.

“But I said right at the beginning that qualification for the Champions League was primarily going to be done with the players that got us there.

“These are players that are developing, that are improving, that have a total understanding of how we work.

“Clearly we are missing some players that are decisive for us and we want to make the squad stronger.

“But that only happens when you have two parties that are willing to work together to get the deal done.”

Rodgers, who will have Leigh Griffiths fit against the Kazakhstan champions after the striker shrugged off calf injury worries, added: “We just have to be patient. I always trust the players I have and work to make them better.

“That’s what we look to do to over these next couple of games – and if we can get anybody else in before tonight then great, if not then the players know I trust them.”

Griffiths has declared himself fit to face Astana. The Scotland frontman has been coping with a niggling calf injury in recent weeks and was only given a brief second-half substitute cameo appearance in Friday night’s win over Partick Thistle.

But while he is ready to lead the line for Rodgers’s men, defenders Erik Sviatchenko and Dedryck Boyata, midfielder Eboue Kouassi (all knee) and striker Moussa Dembele (hamstring), remain out.

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