Brendan Rodgers is using this initial period on his return to Celtic to assess the strength of the squad, from its top stars to the fringe players who have struggled to get a look in under Ange Postecoglou.
Amongst those being put through their paces in Portugal are James McCarthy and Liam Scales, both signed during the Australian’s tenure at the Bhoys but both finding their game time limited.
McCarthy made just five substitute appearances last term and hasn’t featured since October, while Scales spent the season out on loan at Aberdeen.
Discussing the duo, Rodgers said [The Scotsman]: “At this moment in time, I am assessing the squad to see where they all fit and where it’s at. I have only seen a lot of them from a distance before coming in so this is a chance to see up close.
“I have known James McCarthy since he was a young player and he spent a lot of his career in the Premier League. I know his qualities and sadly for him, since coming back to Celtic, that has been hindered by injuries he’s had. But I saw a lot of James down south and I know his qualities.
“I am just assessing Liam Scales at the moment. From afar I could see he is a very good footballer and he’s at the stage where he will want to play. I just need to assess his qualities and see where he will fit into the squad.”
Rodgers also expanded on the injury situation involving Mikey Johnston, which was revealed yesterday, stating: “I’m not sure if it was directly picked up on international duty but he felt some issues when he came back for pre-season. It’s just about availability. He has fantastic attributes, he’s quick and direct.
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“He can score goals, he can create and has a lot of tools that I like for guys who play in wide areas. But you have to be available and that is going to be important for him. Hopefully this season, when he gets over this back injury, he can have a sustained run of fitness to perform.”
It’s going to be a tough ask for any of this trio to force their way into Rodgers’ plans but we’ve seen career revivals under the Celtic boss before, so nothing can be ruled out.
What’s clear is that Rodgers is getting to the root of what is needed at the Bhoys. If players don’t have a future here they must be moved on and replaced in the transfer market. There’s a lot of business to be done this summer, both in and out of the club.