Brendan Rodgers has confirmed Celtic chiefs have started discussions with Cameron Carter-Vickers over a new contract.

The US international, 26, is under contract until the summer of 2026 but Rodgers is keen to tie down a "pillar" of his team.

Carter-Vickers, who hasn't played since the Boxing Day win over Dundee due to injury, has been everpresent for Celtic whenever available since his move to Parkhead from Tottenham.

And Rodgers reckons the powerful defender has all the attributes to star in the Premier League one day even if he's hopeful of a prolonged period in Glasgow. 

"He’s very important. We’ve had a conversation and he’s absolutely loved it here," said Rodgers of Carter-Vickers.

"He’s been around a few clubs down south and coming here he recognises the magnitude of the club, he’s become a winner here, he’s settled, played virtually for 18 months.

"He picked up the injury at the end of last season which then probably curtailed his pre-season which has then had a knock-on effect for part of this season.

"But I think hopefully now into the second part of the season he can get back to the player he’s shown here.

"Of course when you have someone with that game idea, he understands how I want to work and his power and strength and game view, he’s been fantastic.

"So he’s a player I really want to keep, of course."

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On whether a new deal will be tabled to tie down Carter-Vickers, Rodgers added: “There is no doubt he is one of the pillars of the team and of course we would want to do that. That will happen in time, I’m sure.

“There have been talks on that between the club and his representatives so let’s see where it goes.”

While there has been anticipation that a bid for Carter-Vickers could arrive due to his impressive form in Scotland, Rodgers fears of a transfer exit for the centre-back do not plague his mind.

“Not really no," said Rodgers on whether he worries of a late January transfer bid. "I don’t worry about it. 

"I don’t like in bed awake about it. If they want to go, they want to go. That’s the way football works.

"I think from what I’ve seen and from what I’ve worked with he can play at that [Premier League] level. 

"He needed to come away and find the pressures here. But there’s no doubt. He has all the tools.

“But his happiness is here. Him and his partner absolutely love it up here. We would be keen to keep him here.”

Rodgers was already aware of Carter-Vickers' ability before pitching up at Celtic for a second spell in charge, but he himself admits he was pleasantly surprised by just how good the American is.

He conceded: "Absolutely [he was better than I thought]. It’s always nice when you come into work with players, it’s why I reserve total judgement.

"You can watch them from the outside. It’s like Matt O’Riley, there were things you were thinking ‘ok, you can see his qualities but does he have this?’

"Then you see him close up and Cam’s the same. I’d seen him around at clubs and the challenge he had to break into Tottenham’s team.

"The time when he was there with the players they had, he’d gone out and picked up some loans. But he probably needed to find a home and you see him when he’s had that.

"He’s very strong. He came through at Tottenham. I was very close to the technical director in England John McDermott, I’ve known him for a long time and I know the education a lot of the Tottenham boys will have had.

"Seeing Cam, it doesn’t surprise me really because. But seeing him close up you see how strong and robust he is.

"He’s got great strength and power and he knows football which helps and he can play football."
Carter-Vickers' recent injury issues have caused concern amongst the Celtic fan base with the defender's crucial role in the rearguard no better highlighted than when he is out of the team.

But Rodgers is confident there will be no vicious cycle of injury problems when Carter-Vickers does make his first-team comeback.

"I just think that’s a consequence of probably chasing it a wee bit because the base in pre-season is so important," he said.

"He never really had that. He felt good in the Aberdeen game but that’s what it is.

"At that time it’s also the nature of when he’s had his operation it can knock you out of your rhythm but we’re confident he’ll get back that robustness and stay injury-free."

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Meanwhile, Rodgers has revealed Celtic have a realistic transfer option included in the loan deal for Benfica talent Paulo Bernardo.

The Portugal under-21 international joined Celtic on an initial loan deal but Rodgers has confirmed there is the option to trigger a permanent signing.

And while reluctant to divulge the numbers involved in the deal, Rodgers insisted it is not a pipe-dream fee but one that could realistically be triggered by the Parkhead hierarchy.

“I’m not going to tell you [the fee]! But yeah, absolutely [it's realistic], otherwise it wouldn’t be in place.

“Clearly, aye, it’s two-way. But I can see he is really enjoying his time, he is improving and developing.

“It is nice to see that emerging young talent coming through, and it’s also a sign that you have to be patient with players.

“Some players, they can come into a club and hit the ground running. There is so much involved in a move for a player, whether it is family, kids, culture, weather, there is just so much involved.

“Some settle quicker than others, but for him, he has been so professional and he’s been a real, real joy to work with.

“To see him getting his rewards for that is really good.

“The key is, he now has real clarity in how we play and how we work, what is required, and you see his game flourishing. He’s been excellent, and I expect him to get better.

“We’ll assess it, I’ll sit down with him at some point towards the end of the season and take it from there.”

Rodgers will lead his side into the Scottish Cup this afternoon with huge underdogs Buckie Thistle headed to Parkhead.

The Celtic boss boasts a near-perfect cup record in Scottish football - and tasted success against the odds in the FA Cup as Leicester manager. 

And Rodgers revealed alongside wild celebrations that he received a phone call from legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to congratulate him on the feat.

“It was a special feeling for me," said Rodgers of the 2021 FA Cup win.

“I remember getting a phone call from Fergie a couple of days later which was great, because he and I were the only managers to win the FA Cup and Scottish Cup.

“He said he thought he’d be the only one!

“That was such a lovely touch and nice thing to do. It made it even more special.

“I was so happy for the players. That moment, to win it and be together on that day, was a brilliant feeling."