IT appears to be a matter of when and not if Eddie Howe is appointed Celtic manager, with the long-awaited announcement of the former Bournemouth boss as the successor to Neil Lennon now imminent.

With so much to be done in such short order to restore this Celtic squad to a competitive position over the course of the next Premiership season, and to whip a team into shape in time for the Champions League qualifiers in late July, the Celtic support will be relieved that the long courtship of Howe is about to come to an end.

But here is where the hard work really starts for the 43-year-old, who has been conducting his own due diligence on the job that lies ahead of him in Glasgow. Here, we look at three priorities that Howe will want to address as soon as he has his feet under the table at Lennoxtown.


It looks certain there will be a high turnover in personnel at Celtic at the end of this season, and not only because over-reliance on the recruitment of loan players last summer.

Shane Duffy, Diego Laxalt, Jonjoe Kenny and Moi Elyounoussi will all leave the club, with perhaps only the last name on the list being one that Celtic supporters may be keen to see pull on the jersey again.

Of more concern is the apparently accepted wisdom that Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie will be sold. Newcastle United are the latest club to be linked with a move for Ajer, and it has been rumoured for long and weary that all three players have itchy feet.

Whether the arrival of Howe will spark a rethink from any of them in the same way that Brendan Rodgers managed to reignite the Celtic careers of players who looked destined for the door when he came north, only time will tell. But Howe will have to ascertain how committed each of these men are to the club early on, and if they would rather be elsewhere, move them on quickly.

His predecessor Lennon said as far back as last August and the Champions League qualifying defeat to Ferencvaros that wantaway stars were causing friction within the squad, and that proved to be the case as the season wore on.


Following on from the previous point of order, Howe will know that an injection of fresh blood is crucial to his chances of success, with the only question being over the number of players he will require. If he can revitalise and refocus a few of the undoubtedly talented players within the existing squad, then all well and good, but there are some key areas that will need strengthening right through the spine of the team.

Vasilis Barkas may get an escape route back to Greece with AEK Athens keen on bringing the £5m man back to the club where he made his name. It simply hasn’t worked out for the keeper, who has failed to settle, and his departure would seem like the best solution for all parties.

Scott Bain has been an able deputy, but that would seem to the role he is best suited to, with Celtic missing the presence of a top-quality keeper this season after failing to bring Fraser Forster back to the club. So, a new keeper is a must.

At the heart of defence, Christopher Jullien will return after his lengthy injury lay-off, while young Stephen Welsh has shown signs of promise. Even still though, with Duffy and - in all probability – Ajer moving on, Celtic are hugely light on quality and physical presence in the middle of their backline.

On either side of the defence they are light on numbers too, with Greg Taylor likely to be the only first-team full-back left standing. In midfield, Scott Brown’s departure leaves a void in experience, ability and leadership to be filled, while there are reports that former Celtic boss Rodgers may return to the club in an attempt to lure Callum McGregor to Leicester along with him. Either way, at least one seasoned, top-level midfielder will have to be sourced from somewhere.

Then we have the wings, where Celtic were caught criminally short this season after the long-term injuries to James Forrest and Mikey Johnston. Both should be fully up to speed soon, but there must be more adequate cover brought in.

Then we have the attacking areas, with David Turnbull at least looking assured of a place in Howe’s new-look team. Elyounoussi and perhaps Christie and Edouard will need replaced though, rounding off a gargantuan rebuild for Howe and his backroom team.


Interim Celtic manager John Kennedy has tipped Callum McGregor to be the man who can take on the armband and the mantle of Celtic’s leader when Scott Brown heads to Pittodrie in the summer, and the current vice-captain would seem the obvious candidate for the role despite his low-key demeanour in contrast to his long-time teammate.

The potential snags to that plan though are whether or not McGregor will even remain at the club beyond the summer, and whether or not Howe has his own ideas of who he wants to lead his side on the pitch. If he could bring in a quality player with leadership skills, he could solve a couple of his problems at once.

Bournemouth captain Steve Cook has already been linked with a move to join his former boss in Glasgow, and as an uncompromising defender with bags of experience, he would certainly fit the bill as both a solution to the central defensive problems and in filling the leadership vacuum.

There is confusion over his contract situation though, with his current deal due to expire this summer. Reports have suggested that Cook has extended his stay with The Cherries behind the scenes until next summer, despite no public acknowledgement of this from Bournemouth.

Should a transfer fee be required though, it may be a small price to pay for what he would bring to the table both on and off the field.