BRENDAN Rodgers last night expressed confidence that Stuart Armstrong, the Scotland midfielder who was one of his outstanding performers last season, will commit his long-term future to Celtic and sign a new contract.

Armstrong, who only managed to establish himself as a first team regular at Parkhead last year after Rodgers took over as manager, has a year of his current deal remaining, but has so far failed to agree to an extension.

The 25-year-old has been persistently linked with moves to the Barclays Premier League, a level that former Swansea City and Liverpool manager Rodgers believes he is more than capable of playing at, and Brighton, Burnley, Everton and West Brom are all reported to be monitoring his situation.

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However, Rodgers stressed that negotiations were put on hold towards the end of the 2016/17 campaign as Celtic attempted to go undefeated domestically and complete only the fourth treble in their history.

Speaking in Austria, where the Scottish champions have come on pre-season, the Northern Irishman insisted the player was content at Celtic and suggested he would be keen to stay having taken time to settle.

“I wanted to put it on the backburner towards the end of last season,” said Rodgers. “I didn’t want any distractions and there was a period of time when it wasn’t resolved.

“We put the contract talks on hold. He’s had the Scotland game and a holiday, so I’m sure they will resume over the course of the season.

“It’s just negotiation. Stuart’s at that point in his career. He had a brilliant season, he came on great strides last season.

“Contracts are always about length of time, or finances, but I am pretty confident the club and the agent will come to an agreement.

“He’s happy here in this environment and he knows he is improving and developing. So let’s wait and see. He’s someone I’m keen to keep.

“The last thing he needed to worry about was contract talks. We wanted to put that to one side. I’m sure that will be resolved over the course of the season

“He’s now an international player so let’s wait and see. He’s someone we want to keep.

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“Naturally, I hope he (Armstrong), gets his deal here, and he is very happy. In his own mind he’s been through a tough couple of years, but now he has found a level of consistency and form and he naturally wants to continue like that.”

Rodgers, whose side take on Rapid Vienna in their second pre-season friendly in Amstetten tomorrow afternoon, admitted that Armstrong and his other key players would attract interest from other clubs given the outstanding success they enjoyed last season.

But the 44-year-old is only concerned with his charges focusing fully on improving their fitness and match sharpness ahead of their opening Champions League qualifier against either La Fiorita of San Marino or Linfield of Northern Ireland. next month

He said: “Listen, they have all done well. I suspect I might be one of the last ones to get a call. Any calls I suspect would be put through to the agent. But the most important thing is that the players retain their focus while they are here.”

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