ONE of Brendan Rodgers’ first acts as Celtic manager was to have the fences around the first team training pitches at Lennoxtown covered with a protective screen to prevent any unwelcome onlookers from seeing what he was working on with his players.

That has not, however, stopped prying eyes in the sky from having an illicit peek at Rodgers putting his charges through their paces.

“I’ve encountered a few things up here,” he said yesterday after he was quizzed for his views about the spygate controversy that erupted in England last week. “There’s been a couple of drones spotted and I’ve seen a couple of guys walking their dogs.”

Asked if he was concerned about rival clubs being able to observe Celtic preparing for matches from the grounds of the old Lennox Castle Hospital high above the multi-million pound facility, Rodgers said: “Not with our snipers positioned up there.”

The former Watford, Reading, Swansea City and Liverpool manager clearly doesn’t share the indignation of many, not least Frank Lampard at Derby County, in the game down south at the actions of his Leeds United counterpart Marcelo Bielsa.

A member of the Argentinian’s staff was caught at the Derby training ground last Thursday ahead of a Championship game at Elland Road the following evening – which leaders Leeds won 2-0.

Bielsa, who is now under investigation by the English Football League, revealed on Wednesday that he had spied on every opposing team in the second tier this season.

Yet, Rodgers isn’t, unlike Lampard and a lot of others in England, of the opinion that Bielsa has been disrespectful or unethical and revealed that he would fully expect such conduct from overseas coaches.

“It’s an interesting one,” he said. “He did his best to try and defend it. Marcelo Bielsa is someone I’ve admired for a long, long time. His methods were renowned long before he came to this country.

“Frank caught someone in the bushes. Things happen in football. But Bielsa’s an international manager and it’s not illegal. I don’t think it’s unsporting. I tend not to think about that kind of thing too much.

“I’ve worked with enough Europeans and South Americans to know that’s how they are. There are a lot of self-appointed morality officers coming in now. Some are mentioning cheating, but that’s a harsh word to use. He’s trying to get an edge.”

If Airdrieonians had despatched an undercover operative to covertly watch Celtic training yesterday in an attempt to gain an advantage ahead of their William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round tie at Parkhead tomorrow evening they would have discovered a fair few things.

Firstly, that James McCarthy, Scott McTominay and Yaya Toure – three players who have been linked with moves to the double treble winners in recent days as the January transfer window has entered its third week – weren’t in attendance. “There are lots of rumours, but nothing concrete,” said Rodgers. “We’ve brought in three boys (Vakoun Issouf Bayo, Oliver Burke and Timothy Weah). We hope to do some more business if we can, but there’s nothing to add to the speculation.”

They would also have seen that Burke and Weah, who have joined the Scottish champions on loan until the end of the 2018/19 campaign from West Brom and Paris Saint-Germain respectively, are ready to make their debuts this weekend.

“They’ll both be in the squad,” said Rodgers. “Oliver has been training and playing away because there is no winter break down south and Timothy has also looked good. Bayo isn’t in the country yet.”

Likewise, a spy would have realised that Rodgers himself, after reports he is on the radar of Premier League club Leicester City, remains very much in situ. “It (Leicester) is a fantastic club, but at this moment in time my concentration is purely on Celtic and looking forward to the second part of this season,” he said.

It would also have been apparent to any passer-by that neither Kieran Tierney, the Scotland left back who has been sidelined with a hip injury since the Europa League game against Salzburg last month, or Odsonne Edouard, who has been struggling with an abductor strain, are still not fit.

“Kieran’s still with the medical team,” said Rodgers. “Hopefully over the next few weeks we will see where we are at. There’s no timescale. Will he need an op? I’ve not been advised of that yet by the medics. We will wait and see, but the pain is less than it was.”

Asked if he thought Tierney would be available for the Europa League last 32 double header against Valencia next month, his manager said: “That’s too far ahead to say. We’ll just have to see over the next few weeks.

“But we’ve got cover with Emilio. We have options and Emilio is a very good and experienced cover player for us. He will play at the weekend.

“Odsonne won’t be fit for this weekend. But hopefully by next week he will not be too far away.”