Scott Sinclair’s progress in Scotland should make Gareth Southgate consider him for England’s World Cup qualifier against the Scots at Hampden Park, according to Brendan Rodgers.
At the risk of putting himself on the wrong side of the Tartan Army ahead of the collision of the Auld Enemies on June 10, the Celtic manager declared that Sinclair – who has scored 23 goals for the Hoops - would be an authentic addition to England’s firepower.
Sinclair has never represented his country at senior level, although the 28 year-old won caps for the English youth teams, from Under-17 to Under-21, but when asked if the forward’s burgeoning confidence merited a return to the international scene, Rodgers said: “He has got a lot of choice, Gareth but, yes, if they are looking at a player of technique who provides a genuine goal threat.
“Gareth played 4-3-3 against Germany - which we play at times, so Scotty knows the role and you need people who are direct and who can score goals and play. What Scotty has shown which maybe he hadn’t in the last few years is that he has the confidence.
“I am very much a manager and a coach who tries to improve weaknesses, but I am all about looking at player’s strengths, what they are good at and making them better. Scotty has shown that for England he suits the criteria.
“He is fast, he is strong, he has good technique, he has an eye for goal and he is robust and he works hard. It wouldn’t surprise me [if he was called up], having worked with some of the players at that level closely, because he is certainly at that level.”
With voting under way for player of the year awards north of the border – both for PFA Scotland and the Scottish Football Writers’ Association – Sinclair will be amongst the candidates for the accolades but whoever comes top of the polls will be a member of the Celtic squad, according to the Parkhead manager, although he made special mention of Aberdeen’s contingent.
“It’ll be from Celtic. That is no disrespect because there are a lot of good players here,” he said. “The Aberdeen boys have done great. Jonny Hayes I know well.
“I took Jonny to Reading when he was 16 so I know how good a player he is and I have been really impressed with him. Niall McGinn and Kenny McLean too have been excellent for them. They have good players who have done very well but I look at the level our players have played at, the consistency and the quality and I would be surprised if it wasn’t a Celtic player who takes it.”
Rodgers is favourite to be named Manager of the Year in Scotland and, if the recent extension of his contract by four years keeps him in the east end of Glasgow for that length of time, he is likely to be a regular contender. The Northern Irishman reiterated his desire to take Celtic beyond their current standing.
“That is what excites me. I am not a maintainer of anything,” he said. “I don’t like to do that. I like to create, to build stuff. I was asked to do that when I came here. That was the beauty, the attraction – ‘Come and be the architect of the club,’ were Dermot [Desmond’s] exact words.
“For me that means assisting Peter [Lawwell] and his board to make decisions that help. My job is to look after the football club and to have really talented people within the organisation to make decisions and improve the facilities, the structure.
“Can we do all that and move the club forward? Can we improve the pitches, the media suite? I worked with youth and the first job I had in football was an under-11 coach and a welfare officer so from very early days I have been about care, looking after and developing.
“That is just my nature, how I was built. I could easily say I look after the first-team and I don’t worry about what the under-14s or under-15s are doing but it is not my make-up.
“Legacy is about what are you actually leaving behind? It is something tangible but also the feeling. Did you try to do your best for everyone, to take it to another level, to raise standards?
“If you want to be the best that you can be then you have to do those things otherwise you simply maintain and I am not here for that. I am here at Celtic for a period of time to support the club I love, to give them everything, so when the time to move on comes then I know I have given it absolutely everything. And then someone else can come and benefit.”