WHEN John McGinn glanced at the identity of the caller flashing up on his mobile phone on Wednesday, he might have been forgiven for letting it ring to voicemail. It was Brendan Rodgers, the manager of Celtic, the club he had supported as a boy but was now set to turn down for a move to Aston Villa.

As it was, he had no need to worry. The purpose of the call was not a last-ditch attempt to change his mind, but rather to wish him well on his new adventure as Rodgers resigned himself to the fact that the midfielder would not be his player.

It could all have been so different, of course, and there was no hiding the disappointment in Rodgers’ tone when conversation turned yesterday to the failed pursuit of the midfielder. Instead of having McGinn at his side in a Celtic jersey, the manager performed his press duties alone, where he was left to rue the failure of his club to land one of his top summer targets.

“I spoke to John at length yesterday,” said Rodgers. “He was already gone. Just to wish him all the very best.

“It was a great move for him, disappointment for us of course. Especially when you are a lifelong Celtic supporter.

“But he is joining another illustrious club with a great history and wonderful training facilities and a good manager and an opportunity to go play in England.

“He has developed a lot these last couple of years. He is a good age, a prime age at 23 and I wish him all the very best.

“I was given an indication of where he was at. It was just a call out of courtesy really. He is a young man that I would like to see do well.

“He is very committed to his profession and a very good player. I wish him all the very best.”

Whether Rodgers’ warm salutations currently extend towards the Celtic board, is less clear. He has publicly admitted that he is disappointed with the level of quality that has been delivered this summer, making it difficult to gauge what he is privately thinking over the progress of the club and his place within it.

Targets, like McGinn, have been identified by Rodgers and chief scout Lee Congerton. But as yet, as in the case of McGinn, they have not arrived. But Rodgers refused to be drawn on whether the failure to land the Scotland midfielder would help his case with the board moving forward by drawing into sharp focus the need to avoid complacency in future transfer dealings.

“There’s always things you can learn, whether you sign a player or don’t sign a player. It’s gone, so we move on," he said.

“I have a huge respect for the board here. Absolutely. They have run the club strategically very, very well. Me coming into here and what I have seen in the last couple of years, I have real good relations with every one of them. There is not an issue there at all.

“My focus is on doing the best for Celtic. Deep down I am a supporter, but I am also a professional manager. I also look for the help that is needed to take the team to the next level if that is what the demand is. I will always push for that.

“What we need in the squad in terms of real genuine quality positioning will obviously cost you money. It doesn’t guarantee anything. What you would hope is that it would give you a greater opportunity.

“The game is about quality and quality players. We have some outstanding players here in terms of quality and talents. We are trying to grow and cultivate your squad to the best that it can be and for that you can’t stand still. You have to keep looking to develop and improve it even if you think you are doing ok. That is something that is a constant.”

Daniel Arzani and Emilio Izaguierre do look set to join the club, but with the former a work in progress joining on a two-year loan, and the latter essentially coming in so that Kieran Tierney can have the occasional break, their arrival will not quench Rodgers’s thirst to add quality that can immediately impact on the first eleven.

One man who may come in and do that for Tuesday night’s Champions League qualifier return leg in Athens is defender Dedryck Boyata, who looks set to replace the suspended Kristoffer Ajer at the heart of the Celtic backline.

However, even given the gravity of the task at hand after the 1-1 draw with AEK on Wednesday evening at Celtic Park, and the magnitude of the result on their season, Rodgers was cagey when pressed on the chances of striker Moussa Dembele making the match.

“We will see how it goes,” he said. “The medical guys have always felt it was going to be a push. We also have to see how Moussa is feeling himself. You can’t put a timeline on these sorts of things.

“He is working very hard out on the training field. We will see how he goes. You always have to weigh up the risk.”

“You always have to think of the longer term.

“If it was the last game of the season or a cup final then you can maybe look at it, but at this stage of the season, especially off the back of that type of injury, the last thing you want to do is put him out for another six weeks.

“That wouldn’t make sense, everything has to be in balance in terms of risk.”

Before that of course, Celtic have the small matter of a visit to Tynecastle tomorrow lunchtime to take on Hearts, where Rodgers expects to encounter difficulties in the shape of their opponent, and also the pitch.

“We haven’t cut the grass here all week,” he joked. “I expect it to be the same as it’s been in my time here.

“Everyone wants to see good football whatever the conditions we tend to play in.”