Huge Celtic clearout begins, nine players identified as casualties

By Alex Stevens

Brendan Rodgers has admitted he will clear out the dead wood from the Celtic squad this summer.

The new manager took his first training session at the club’s Lennoxtown headquarters on Monday and already recognises the squad is far bigger than what he needs.

The Scottish giants have already sanctioned the departures of Anthony Stokes, Carlton Cole and Colin Kazim-Richards and Rodgers made it clear that he wants the clearout to continue as he prepares for the team’s entry to the Champions League qualifiers in three weeks’ time.

“Obviously not all the players are back at this moment but a majority of them are back”, the former Liverpool boss said, as quoted by the Telegraph. “Certainly I know what I want to work with and everyone would agree – and people within the club agree – that the squad is way too big. It’s not about the players it’s about the quality of the work you can do.

“You can’t work well with a group that size, you can’t work with quality, hence the idea of having to cut it whilst also assessing the players. I’ve now  worked with the players and I think they have been very good in the first couple of days. I have to respect them because they are the champions and they showed that last year.”

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Rodgers’ plans to prune the squad as the club target a sixth consecutive league title even though nine players are currently on the casualty list.

Dedryck Boyata, Jozo Simunovic, Mikael Lustig, Emilio Izaguirre, Gary Mackay-Steven, Kris Commons, Nir Bitton, Stefan Johansen and Charlie Mulgrew are all still injured from the 2015-16 season and Rodgers has begun to look for reinforcements to be brought in before Celtic meet either Lincoln of Gibraltar or Estonia’s Flora Tallinn in mid-July.

“I would hope to do business before the first Champions League qualifier,” the manager told the Telegraph.” The club have been brilliant. I’ve spoken about a couple of targets and Peter Lawwell and Dermot Desmond have been great in trying to progress those.

“I would hope they could be done, but it’s just going to take time. None of those will be determined on whether or not we qualify for the group stages.

“It’s not easy. You come in and want to look at and assess the players. The honesty is that, from afar, I didn’t know a great deal about a lot of them.

“I tried to analyse as much as I possibly could when I knew I was coming here, but you still like to see them close-up and then you get a different perspective.”

In other Celtic news, Norwich have had a bid accepted for a Championship ace amid interest from Aston Villa and Celtic.