Everything Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers had to say ahead of his side's game against Kilmarnock in Ayrshire...

How pleased are you to get the deal done with Gustaf (Lagerbielke)?

Yeah, very pleased. Obviously, when we lost Carl, who was an excellent servant to the club, it was important that we quickly get someone to come in. He’s a highly-rated young player and we look forward to seeing him play.

Is he a player you’ve been aware of for a while, Brendan?

Yeah, I said before that I think the club here have got a great pipeline of players that are in place and there's always a plan if one is to move on, so he's one that the guys have looked at for a long time.

Is he available for this weekend? He should be up to speed fitness-wise.

Yeah. He's been playing so fitness-wise he’s fine.

And Stephen Welsh, he signed a new deal as well.

Yeah, great for him. He picked up a little bit of a knock today, which was a shame for him, considering he just signed his new deal and it being announced. I'm really pleased for him, he's a guy that loves Celtic, and loves playing here. He’s been a great player within the squad over these last number of years. Maybe not played as much as what he would have liked, but his heart’s very much here and I'm delighted for him that he's committed to signing.

How long will he be missing?

I don’t know yet, we just have to wait and see on that.


Can you give us an update on Cameron Carter-Vickers and Reo Hatate from the weekend?

They’re not available for the weekend so we have to just assess them and see how they are over the coming weeks.

You’ve mentioned previously that you want four competitive centre-backs. You’ve brought in the two new guys. There's Cameron there as well, and Stephen has signed a new deal. Is there a decision to be made with the likes of Yuki Kobayashi and Liam Scales?

Yeah, there are always decisions on players. I said earlier before, that by the time the window shuts by the end of the month that there will be movement within the squad, so that’s what you’re assessing at the moment.

How do you view this game on Sunday? Kilmarnock – a tough away venue?

Yeah, a tough game. I watched the game against Rangers, and they did very well. Derek’s (McInnes) teams are always very well-organised. Some of the most competitive in the country. Yeah, and he's a very experienced and excellent manager, so I expect and anticipate a tough game for sure, and that’s what we’ll be preparing for.

Just the way this competition is set up, it gives you the chance to get into the latter stages of a cup competition very early in the season. That can be a real boost?

Yeah, I enjoyed that side of it when I was here the last time. You’ve got something to play for early on, which is great. So, having that opportunity to get to a final early on in the season is very, very good. So for us, we have to work hard to get there. I think you have to earn the right and that’s something we’ll look to do at the weekend.

You said previously that you would look to bring in a player to replace Jota. There's been speculation surrounding Daniel Podence at Wolves. Is there anything you can hang us on that?

No. None at all.

And Ryan Fraser at Newcastle?

None at all.

You mentioned Derek’s teams are always hard to play against. He seems to have had a chance this summer to put his own stamp on the team a bit more because of the contract situation. You can see they’ve hit the ground running. Do you know what you’re always going to face when you’re playing against Derek’s sides?

Yeah, I'm not surprised. He did a fantastic job at Aberdeen. When I was up here the first time, they were always very competitive and tough games. He got promoted with Kilmarnock and now is wanting to establish them in the division and like you say, after his first season he is looking to put his own stamp on it. So, he's been able to refresh the squad and get the profile of player that he wants in and they’re very difficult to play against. That mixture between man-to-man and zonal when they're defending deeper. But we obviously anticipate a tough game, the surface always plays a part, but we can't have any excuses going into the game. Were in the competition to try and win it and in order to do that you have to beat good teams and come across difficult opponents.

You’ve had some cup finals against Derek back earlier in your Celtic career. A big chance to kickstart your project here as well because it comes so early like you did the last time?

Yeah, it's a game we want to win, we want to get into the next round, and we’ll do everything we possibly can. We’ll have great support there to help us and our idea is to get into the next round.

There's been a lot of chat among the fans anyway about club signings and Brendan Rodgers signings. How many more players are you looking to get in and could you talk us through the recruitment process and how players are brought to you and whether you get a big say in “I want that guy” or “This is the man for me”?

It's pretty simple in terms of how it works. Ultimately, I will develop and coach the players that the club provide me, and the process of the club providing me with the players is we have a great network of scouts headed up by Mark (Lawwell), who, as I've said before, has done a fantastic job within the model of the club and bringing the players in that fit in with the club, which allows the club to be sustainable and successful at the same time. So, they have a pipeline of players there that all will fit in, but then it's about picking the profile that fits us best, and of course, I play a part in that. But they do a lot of great work, they watch players over a number of months so that they have various players for each position. So, whenever we do lose one – as you see with Gustaf – then there's a replacement to come in. It’s not always straightforward – it always takes time - but like I say a lot of great work goes on and ultimately, I will coach and develop the players that I am provided, and of course I, have a part in that. The club is run very, very well, it's very sustainable and that’s what's given it that sustainability and success over a number of years and it's my responsibility to adhere to that.

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Does that differ much from the way things worked at Leicester? 

You can't compare because the resources of the Premier League are different. I think in terms of Leicester it was a club where it was difficult for us in the final year but likewise, there the club would identify the types of players we would want like Wesley Fofana or Youri Tielemans. The club would identify the profile of the player and then do everything they could to get it. It was all done within a certain budget and there was a certain budget the club could never get to and most clubs are the same. At Celtic, we do not have that resource but it still means we can have good players and ones who we can develop and improve.

Where do you think this team are right now in terms of the way you want them to play? You have had two games now and are you starting to see the style you want?

In sections of the game, yes. I think it's time and whilst we are searching for that and that is called the development of players and the players understanding systematically what we're looking for and how we want to work. The principles of a lot of it are the same in terms of pressing. I think you see a lot of the game now where there is a lot of man-to-man-marking and when you are playing against man-to-man-marking then the best pass is the forward pass that breaks the lines of the marking so you'll see direct balls that will go through quickly into the attacking line but you should also see patience in the game as well where you have to draw the opposition out of positions and get in behind. It is going to take a wee bit of time for me to be happy with the idea of what I am saying. What I will say is it is very early in this stage and you need to win, that's important and I need to say attitude and energy in the players and that's what I am seeing.

It is noticeable that Celtic have shown some more direct passing and I wasn't sure f that was due to the pitch last week against Aberdeen and the grass was long. You have the astroturf this weekend, is that something that you have implemented from the start or is that down to circumstances?

It is a wee bit of both. You are always looking at the opponent as well and when a team is pressing you and they have six players inside the 18-yard box or in that area in the final third of the pitch then it is finding different ways to break through that pressure. If you look at any top-level games you will see teams who either play through the pressure, play around it or play over the top of it in terms of the build-up phase. The build-up phase isn't always short passing, the build-up phase is about attracting teams in it as well and finding a different line especially when you have got speed on the back line. So you just try and bring variety to your game but over time the players make better decisions - when to play short, when to play through and when to come back and start a new attack and that is just adaption.


How have Matt O'Riley and Callum McGregor's roles changed since you have come in?

Probably just adding extra players in the build-up. Matt is what I would call a hybrid player. Rather than being always up there, he can come down to support when the team is under pressure. He can also arrive into the game and there are certain players who if they are up too high, too early can't get their body working. He is a player who is fantastic with his body and how he takes the ball. By also arriving that little bit later it allows him to see the picture develop and then he can get into the right spaces. That is just about timing and positioning and likewise with Callum. He is used to playing as a single midfielder and sometimes if you get him pressed then you might need somebody else beside you. If you do then that affects the full-back. Sometimes the full-backs will be in sometimes they will be outside. It is just adapting to small tweaks but when you have been used to playing a certain way and the principles are very much the same - fast tempo. The modern game at the highest level is about changing the rhythm of the game as well. We only play fast, direct football but if a team is sitting deep you have to attract them out to find new spaces.

There was a report saying the club were looking to speak to Reo Hatate and Liel Abada about new contacts. Is that something you are keen on in terms of new deals for these two lads?

Well, they are both talented players and both are very much a part of what we want to do. Both of them have three years left on their deals so they are not up for renewal but they are both players whose agents will be talking with the club.

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The club has taken the decision not to take tickets for the Rangers match due to concerns for the supporters' safety, do you think the fixture is diminished if there are no away fans at this match?

We are a way off the Rangers game yet and I do not want to speak too much on that as my focus is purely on Kilmarnock. What I will say on it is that any decision that is ever made is for the safety of supporters. That is all I would say.

Reo (Hatate) and Cameron (Carter-Vickers) you don't expect them to be out long term?

No. We will just need to monitor it over the next week or two.