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Don’t turn the engine off- Rodgers issues subtle warning to 24-year-old in limbo

Brendan Rodgers provided an excellent summary of David Turnbull but didn’t offer any hint towards the future of the midfielder.

The former Motherwell midfielder was probably the star of the show as the Second Half Celts turned on the style to come from behind to beat Athletic Club of Bilbao 3-2.

Turnbull played a major role in the second goal scored by Alexandro Bernabei then added the third while taking on the captain’s armband from James Forrest.

Signed in the Lockdown summer of 2020, the midfielder is in the final year of his four year deal with nothing mentioned in public so far about an extended deal.

Turnbull’s eye for a goal brought him to Celtic’s attention before the drama that followed a failed medical in 2019 that required surgery that resulted in the move from Fir Park being called off.

Since making the move to Celtic he has had one serious injury, a hamstring pull in the 2021 League Cup Final that robbed him of four months but it was competition for places last season that forced him onto the sidelines.

During his two seasons at the club Ange Postecoglou signed James McCarthy, Reo Hatate, Yosuke Ideguchi, Matt O’Riley, Aaron Mooy, Oliver Abildgaard and Tomoki Iwata which kind of suggested that Turnbull wasn’t quite his cup of tea.

A new manager brings fresh ideas and fresh eyes, following Tuesday’s match Rodgers gave the Daily Record his views on Turnbull:

Excellent, he was very good. He’s been good in pre-season. I really like him as a footballer – he’s got tools, he’s comfortable on the ball and can score goals. His efficiency is very good. He just needs to keep working and to keep on the move. It’s always important with those players that they don’t turn the engine off.

There is little debate that Callum McGregor and Reo Hatate are first picks in the Celtic midfield, when they are fit they play.

Matt O’Riley is just below that level and competed last season with the now retired Mooy for the extra place in Postecoglou’s midfield.

With the former Brighton midfielder no longer on the scene Turnbull can probably expect to be ahead of Tomoki Iwata for a first team place and at least a more significant role off the bench.

With less than a year to go in his contract however his situation becomes more complex with the midfielder now in a more powerful negotiating position.

Like Ryan Christie there are probably more lucrative offers available in England although it would come with the likely ending of playing European football and competing for trophies.

Working with Rodgers could prove a very strong counter attraction, having turned 24 last month time is on his side with a new improved contract until May 2025 possibly giving player and club a happy middle ground.

UEFA considerations will be important to Celtic, their 25 man squad has to include four players from within the club and four that were developed by other Scottish clubs.

Last season Turnbull, Greg Taylor, McCarthy and Scott Bain filled those slots, if the former Motherwell man was sold Rodgers would effectively be down three UEFA places with Taylor the only likely contributor in the season ahead with Bain an emergency goalkeeper option that has played two SPFL matches in the last two seasons.

Odin Thiago Holm and Kwon Hyeok-kyu are new midfield options signed since Rodgers took over but both of those midfielders are unknown quantities up against a tried and trusted option in Turnbull that has delivered 18 SPFL goals from 51 starts and 33 appearances off the bench.

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