By Matt Farr
Celtic are set to begin talks with Emilio Izaguirre over a new contract with the club.
The potential contract extension will come as a surprise to Celtic fans, who were expecting the 30-year-old to be heading out of the club in the summer after the emergence of Kieran Tierney.
The Honduras international has had first-team opportunities restricted this season with Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers preferring the Scotland youngster in the left-back role.
He has just six months left to run on his contract, adding further fuel to the debate over his long-term future at the club.
However, Rodgers told the Daily Record that he planned on sitting down with Izaguirre between now and the end of the season to discuss an extended deal.
He said: “When I came in there was maybe a general perception he’d go but I spoke to him and I felt he had a role to play.
“He has done extremely well. Kieran is a special talent but Emilio came in and did very well for us in a tough run of games.
“I like Emilio, he’s very robust, trains every day, he works hard and is very professional. If I have Kieran and Emilio as starter and cover player then I’d be happy.
“We’ll talk more on that between now and the end of the season.”
With Tierney sidelined for much of December, Izaguirre returned to the starting line-up with an opportunity to convince Rodgers of his worth.
He has now made 16 appearances in all competitions, having started five of Celtic’s last seven league games.
Celtic are next in action in the Scottish Cup against Albion on January 22, before their Premiership campaign resumes just three days later in a meeting with St. Johnstone.
They are currently 19 points clear at the top of the league, well on course for their sixth consecutive league title.
Football Insider verdict
A new contract for Izaguirre would be good news all-round for Celitc. The 30-year-old is a handy player to have in their squad, as he has vast international experience with Honduras, while he is one of the longest-serving faces in the Hoops squad. He has been on the books at Parkhead since 2010, and has been there through each of Celtic’s five back-to-back title victories. Kieran Tierney does look to be the long-term solution at left-back, but Izaguirre has proved he still has a lot to offer while the youngster was out injured, and deserves a new deal at the club. Hopefully he can continue to impress throughout the remainder of the campaign, and earn that contract extension.
In other Celtic transfer news, Rodgers has revealed where he is searching for his next transfer targets.