One of the most telling comments made by Brendan Rodgers in his first press conference as Celtic manager was the statement that he prefers to work with a small, tight-knit squad. Given the size of the squad at his disposal, this strongly hints at a major clear out over the summer.
However, while there are certainly bound to be a few players leaving, there is also no shortage of talent within the existing pool of players.
Here are five players that Rodgers should look towards as he tries to re-establish Celtic as a Champion’s League team next season:
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It is a big ask for a 19-year-old left back to be a key player in a team chasing Champions League qualification, but everything Kieran Tierney has done so far in his short career suggests he is ready for it.
Having initially made a name for himself with a wonder goal from the edge of his own penalty box for the development squad, he proceeded to oust the experienced Honduran Emilio Izaguirre from the left back position last season.
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Not only did Tierney not look out of place in the starting XI, but he proved to be one of Celtic’s most consistent performers, often outshining his more experienced team mates.
There is always a danger of second season syndrome with young players, but Brendan Rodgers will be confident of taking Tierney’s development to the next level.
The Celtic skipper had an uncharacteristically poor season under Ronnie Deila last year. He was rarely fully fit, and looked a shadow of the dominating presence of prior seasons.
Nonetheless, he remains a key player in the Celtic team. Brendan Rodgers has already spoken of his admiration for Brown, and Brown’s energetic style seems well suited to Rodgers’ preferred style of play.
If Rodgers can coax Brown back to his best form, then he could be the figurehead to lead an otherwise very youthful team.
The big Aussie has shown flashes this season of the undoubted ability that he possesses. A number of wonder goals, including an inspirational last minute winner against Kilmarnock that all but sealed the title, have hinted at what he is truly capable of.
At times he can drift out of games, but he is one of the few players in the current Celtic squad who are capable of producing goals from nothing.
There have been rumours of interest from the Premier League, but if Celtic can hold on to him, then this could be the season where Rogic makes the step up to become a key player.
While most Celtic fans were glad to see Ronnie Deila move on, they should be thankful to him for the excellent piece of business he achieved in bringing in Patrick Roberts on an 18 month loan.
The 19-year-old is believed to have cost Manchester City £12 million when they signed him from Fulham, and he has looked every inch a £12 million player since he joined Celtic in February.
There is an argument against building your team around a player who is on loan, however, Celtic simply can’t afford not to make the most of his talents while they have him.
At the start of last season, Leigh Griffiths still had to convince a lot of Celtic fans that he was worthy of being the first choice striker at the club. 40 goals later and there are few who continue to question his ability to carry out the role.
Despite his fruitful campaign, there are still those who question whether he can perform on the European stage. Having spent a season answering his doubters, he deserves the opportunity to prove them wrong again.
Can Brendan Rodgers make Celtic a force in the Champions League? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!
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