KEEP calm and carry on. When cast at the centre of the maelstrom that follows either side of the Old Firm, it’s a mantra that can be hard to adhere to.

But John Kennedy, Celtic’s assistant manager, is trying his level best to remain sanguine when it comes to the summer transfer business conducted by the club, just as the nerves of some supporters are starting to become a little frayed at the lack of bodies checking in to Celtic Park.

Nobody needs to remind Kennedy how critical a season this is in the club’s history, and with nine-in-a-row at stake, by extension, this transfer window becomes a critical period too.

Missing out on Motherwell kid David Turnbull has been an inauspicious start, but Kennedy is trusting the work that has been going on behind the scenes, and has asked the Celtic supporters to trust that process too to deliver the fresh blood he admits the squad is sorely needing.


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“On the outside, when there is a lot unknown about what is going on, they just want to see the signing,” Kennedy said.

“Behind the scenes, there is a lot of planning going on. A lot of discussion, meetings and phone calls.

“There is a bit of action going on behind the scenes but obviously that gets kept private until the very last minute when hopefully things are done. That’s the way you have to do your business.

“At the moment, the problem we have sometimes is that you are speaking to a lot of clubs and representatives and players who are on holiday or don’t really want to do business until they get back in July. But we are pushing on that.

“In the next couple of weeks, we hope we can certainly have a couple of faces. Because we need it. There is no shying away from that. We have lost some bodies and have some gaps in the squad we need to fill. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to try and do that.

“It’s happened before, other clubs have done their business earlier than us and we’ve done ours later but that’s just the way it is. You can’t force it and you can’t force things through that aren’t right for you.

“But there’s no need to panic because there’s lots of time left and there is also a lot happening behind the scenes. Work is going on and we certainly hope to have a few fresh faces in in the near future.”


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In the here and now, the failure to capture Turnbull will likely not be a fatal blow to Celtic’s season, with the midfield area still strong for Celtic. But is there a wider concern creeping in that Celtic is not quite the draw it once was for young Scottish players after also failing in a bid for John McGinn last year?

“I definitely believe we can attract the calibre of signings we need,” said Kennedy. “Everyone knows who Celtic is and we can’t compete with the big money in England, but we can compete with other European clubs. It’s also not just about talent – players coming here need to have the right mindset.

“This is a club that needs to be successful and we want to achieve things but there are plenty of players out there who feel the same way. As much as everyone gets tarred with the same brush in terms of finances, we’ve spoken to plenty of players who want to come here but we’ve had to say no because they haven’t been the right fit for us.

“It can be down to age, ability or other reasons but there are numerous players who want to come here for the right reasons. The bigger picture is that – like Virgil van Dijk and Victor Wanyama – players who succeed here will find doors opening to bigger clubs and bigger financial rewards.

“Our experience of this is that we bring in your Kristoffer Ajers and your Ryan Christies plus the boys from our own academies and we mix them in with the others who’ve been here a while or who’ve just been signed and we tend to get the blend right. That helps the players to progress and develop.


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“The problem nowadays is that some players want everything given to them before they’ve achieved anything. For us, we have a structure to work to, so we just move on to the next target because we don’t put all of our eggs in the one basket. There are a number of players we’re looking at and, if one isn’t right, we’ll move on to the next one.”

Of course, bringing players in is only half the battle for any management team during the transfer window, and keeping key players at the club is just as pivotal to Celtic’s success.

There is already speculation linking Kieran Tierney and Callum McGregor with moves to England, but the strong financial situation that Celtic are currently in means that Kennedy is relaxed about fending off any suitors for their top players.

“We are in a strong position,” he said. “It will be an individual case for everybody across the squad. But, in terms of the key players, there are certain ones we wouldn’t want to lose, and we don’t have to.

“We’re not in a position where we need to sell players. Financially, we are stable, and we are in a very good position.”