It might only trouble these masses further this assertion is not disputed whatsoever by Brendan Rodgers as he surveys the wreckage wrought by injuries which will now deprive him of centre-back trio Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki and Stephen Wesh for the next two months. While Reo Hatate isn’t expected to have recovered from a thigh strain until mid-September. The Irishman fully accepts the “challenge” that these issues, and the departures of winger Jota and centre-back Carl Starfelt, present for the remaining week-and-a-bit of the transfer window. Celtic could be required to sign up to five players in that time - an experienced emergency centre-back having leapt to the front of the priority list - simply to ensure his starting XI options going into the Scottish champions’ derby visit to title rivals Rangers on September 3 are as line with what they were for predecessor Ange Postecoglou last season.
“Listen, I’m not going to beat about the bush when I’m talking about the bush. The squad is not as strong. That’s the reality,” he said. “We’ve lost top players and we’ve got players out for a period of time, so I can’t disagree with that. The point I will make is that we will work very, very hard here to try to improve the squad. There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes within the recruitment and trying to identify players that fit into the model. But there is no doubt that we lost a matchwinner in Jota, we lost Carl Starfelt who was a regular. You then look at Cameron Carter-Vickers being out, a mainstay over the last couple of years. Hatate too. OK, he wasn’t quite at the level he has been, but I’m pretty sure he would have been very soon. So, all of a sudden you are missing players of that quality. So, we have to improve, and that is what we will look to do.
“I would say we have strengthened the [depth of the] squad. It is the team we need to improve. A lot of really good work has been done on bringing in Yang [Hyun-jun] and Odin [Thiago Odin], and all these guys. Who will end up, I’m pretty sure, being very good players for the club. But what we want to do is improve the team. That is probably where it is weaker. With the squad, really good work has been done bringing in players that can thicken that up. On the basis we also could improve on what was here. We didn’t anticipate Jota leaving, or where we are at. But it’s about getting the next ones in.
“I’m not anxious [about us doing that]. I think we are all comfortable and know where we are at. We know we need to improve. It is one of the things we spoke about with the club. They understand that what makes everything about Celtic is winning on the pitch. And for that you need to bring in the best players you possibly can within the model. That’s something we will look to do within this period. And whatever doesn’t get done in this [window] will move on to the January one. But, we will develop the guys that are here and push them to the best levels we can.
“I just know when you are trying to get in players sometimes that takes a little bit of time. There are deals and markets very easy to work in and others where timing is an issue. It is not anything as regards this club, because the club have been brilliant since I have been in here to activate and get the players we want. It’s just sometimes on the other side there has been a delay. The work will be continuing to improve the squad and that is the challenge for us.”