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Very early start to pre-season announced for Celtic

Celtic will face Ayr United at Somerset Park on Friday July 5 to mark the opening of the new North Stand at Somerset Park.

It is an unusually early start for the SPFL champions with their Scotland contingent involved at the European Championships until at least June 23 with the final group match against Hungary.

Celtic’s first high profile pre-season game is away to DC United on July 20 which is followed by further matches against Manchester City and Chelsea.

The Ayr United match will be for the non-international players in the squad and is likely to come at the end of the first stage of pre-season work at Lennoxtown. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Alistair Johnston will be involved in the Copa America which runs at the same time as the European Championships.

Fans will be hoping that the Ayr match could be the debut for Joe Hart’s successor, for the home side it will an important part of their build up to the group stage League Cup matches under Scott Brown.

Last season Brendan Rodgers took his squad to Portugal for a week of training and two closed door friendlies before flying to Japan where their first match was a 6-4 defeat from Yokohama F Marinos on July 23.

Things were tightened up in a 1-0 win over Gamba Osaka thanks to a bizarre solo goal by Alexandro Bernabei.

After Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final most of the squad will be scattered far and wide, some playing in international friendlies and others going straight on holiday.

Brendan Rodgers’ thoughts will almost instantly switch to the transfer market where he seems to have some very definite ideas of areas for improvement.

After being knocked out of the Champions League by Lazio in November the Irishman stated that when he returned to the club he felt that four quality signings were needed- before the departures of Jota, Aaron Mooy and Carl Starfelt.

It wouldn’t be a massive shock if all of the signings made last summer are sidelined by recruitment this year, rather than bring in seven players aged 23 and under a different, more experienced calibre of signing is anticipated.

Loan signings Adam Idah and Paulo Bernardo have been significant squad players this season with their futures likely to be a priority issue with the Irish striker a strong candidate for a permanent deal.

Other than Hart the only player out of contract is Rocco Vata, for almost a year there has been speculation linking the Irish u-21 internationalist with a move.

A number of loan players will be returning led by Mikey Johnston and Sead Haksabanovic with Rodgers likely to have decided on whether any of the loaned players have a part to play in next season’s squad.

CLICK HERE for two faced Keevins makes remarkable Rodgers u-turn

CLICK HERE for Santa Ponsa celebrates Celtic’s victory in the Glasgow Derby.

CLICK HERE for SPFL Premiership table.

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