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They’ll have the opportunity to leave- Brendan Rodgers opens the door to Celtic exits

Brendan Rodgers has opened the door to player exits after a month long assessment.

Four pre-season matches via Lennoxtown, the Algarve, Japan, Dublin and Celtic Park has provided the returning manager with the perfect opportunity to hone his squad which stretches to over 30 players.

Ange Postecoglou quickly got Marian Shved, Vakoun Bayo and Boli Bolingoli while knowing that fees were coming in for Kris Ajer, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie. After a year Luca Connell, Karamoko Dembele and Lee O’Connor moved on.

Against Athletic Club Bilbao on Tuesday Rodgers got 45 minutes out of 22 players with Joe Hart, Stephen Welsh and Sead Haksabanovic unused on the bench.

Alistair Johnston and Mikey Johnston are both out injured while Albian Ajeti, Ismaila Soro and James McCarthy are in footballing Siberia but still on the pay roll.

Managing that size of squad would take up more time than is useful for the manager who would probably want a working squad of between 22 and 25 backed up by emerging kids like Rocco Vata, Ben Summers, Daniel Kelly and Ben McPherson possibly out on loan with first team prospects bleak for all four.

While most supporters look for more signings of the calibre of Maik Nawrocki, Rodgers has to prune the numbers down with those honest conversations already held.

Speaking to the Daily Record the Celtic boss said:

There will be a natural feel to the squad in the next number of weeks. Most of the players are clear on where they stand, there’s still a bit of time in the window.

I like to be open with them about where they’re at, so that if they do decide to stay, they understand the conditions they’re working in. There are some players, and it happens at every club, who haven’t quite pushed on, but then all of a sudden something happens and the world changes for them.

If someone doesn’t fit into what I’m doing, or not into the program, they’ll have the opportunity to leave. If they decide to stay, they will be respected. Their game time might be limited, but they won’t be wandering.

I’ve had open conversations with a number of guys already, so they know where they fit, they know that they’re a part of the squad. If they want more game-time they may have to look elsewhere.

There were some young players brought in at the beginning of the window based around the possibility that players might leave. Even if they don’t, they still have potential to grow. We don’t need them ready now, but, hopefully, they can grow over the next couple of seasons.

Saturday’s team news and substitutes will be the first hint over who is in and who isn’t under the new manager.

In midfield Rodgers is overflowing with options despite the close season retirement of Aaron Mooy.

Three places are likely to be available with Callum McGregor and Reo Hatate virtually assured on starting with Matt O’Riley a strong prospect to complete the trio.

David Turnbull is chapping heavily on the door but beyond that Tomoki Iwata, Odin Thiago Holm and Kwon Hyeok-kyu are all in contention with eight outfield players on the bench.

With an eye on the requirement to have four SFA trained players in the 25 man UEFA squad Turnbull really needs to feel involved and retained.

If as expected there are a couple of arrivals in the thoughts of the manager there will need to be more departures but unless there are clubs offering fees for players surplus to requirements the numbers will remain higher than healthy in the eye of the manager.

Adam Montgomery is the only player currently out on loan, at Fleetwood but there are likely to be more following while Tobi Oluwayemi and Matthew Anderson are expected to join Admira Wacker for the season.

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