WHEN you are trying build an army to make an assault on a formidable rival, the last thing you want is reluctant conscripts. That is why the closing of the transfer window, and the resolution of some long-running transfer sagas, has come as such a relief to Ange Postecoglou.

The Celtic manager would never question the professionalism of the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Ryan Christie or Kristoffer Ajer, who he has praised for their commitment and conduct whilst they were still at the club. But even though it may not have been entirely conscious, Postecoglou concedes that the uncertainty over their personal futures cast a long shadow over the collective mission that he and his players are on this season.

Now, the way is clear. Everyone who is at the club - well, on the playing staff at least - is committed to spending at least the next season there.

The sudden and unexpected departure of chief executive Dominic McKay yesterday may have clouded matters away from the field, but Postecoglou is savouring the clarity he now has on it, admitting that the departures of the players mentioned – and the constant speculation that came with them – has changed the dynamic around his squad and the club.

“I think it does,” Postecoglou said. “I wouldn’t say there were people here who didn’t want to be here, I would just say there was uncertainty, and wherever there is uncertainty it doesn’t help in trying to build something.

“I’m trying to talk to the group about the future and what we’re building and where we’re heading, and if there’s uncertainty about whether people are going to be a part of that…it’s something that affects the players themselves who might be thinking that way about their own futures, or they might not be sure on what the club’s stance on their future would be.

“Having gone through the window now, the players kind of know ‘right ok, here we are, we’re all in this building and we’re moving together’. I think that helps just moving forward to accelerate those things.

“I never sensed that the ones who left didn’t want to be here. Whilst they were here, they gave everything they could, but when there is uncertainty it’s very hard to be committed to something beyond what is in front of you on that day.”

Focusing on the immediate day ahead has been the way of things for Postecoglou since his arrival at Celtic, with a whirlwind period of European qualifying fixtures and the resumption of the Premiership amid the backdrop of a major rebuild that brought 12 players to the club to contend with.

So, the international break brought a welcome opportunity for reflection, and to assess where he wants to take this group of players next.

“It’s fair to say that from the moment I arrived there’s been a fair bit going on, so just to be able to sit back and reflect on what we’ve done so far was good,” he said.

“Sometimes the analysis when you’re on the run can skew one way or another, where you’re really optimistic or you’re not about things.

“You’re sitting back and reflecting and I look at that first period of me being in charge, and I think our football kind of progressed through that period, which for me was really promising.

“I think the basics of the way we want to play our football were beginning to filter through to the whole group. That was really important for me, and I could sense that getting back we had started sowing those seeds.

“The flip side to that was I was disappointed we didn’t get through in the Champions League and we lost a couple of games in the league, so that stokes the fire in your belly as well.

“I want to go through the next period where we’ve improved in those areas, so I think it was good for me just to get a little bit of reflection, and give myself a bit of understanding of where we’re at.”

It is straight back into the swing of things for Postecoglou and his men today as they welcome Ross County to Celtic Park, and he believes that the international break may allow him the scope to throw in some of those who arrived late in the transfer window. Something he can now do through choice, rather than necessity, as it was when he first arrived at the club.

“They won’t have to learn the players’ names at least,” he said. “They’ve got to know them pretty well.

“To be fair, we’ve really only had one session together because most of the internationals got back on Thursday.

“But Cameron (Carter-Vickers), Jota, Liam Scales, Giorgios (Giakoumakis) have all settled in well. It’s been good that they’ve had a couple of weeks training with us because with some of the other guys they literally had a session before we threw them in.

“From our point of view, they’ve had a chance to settle themselves off the field as well with the pressure of games. It’s been helpful to have these 10 days together.”

County of course proved a thorn in the side of Celtic last term, and particularly, Neil Lennon. It was their win at Celtic Park in the League Cup that sparked scenes of protest outside the ground, before their triumph over Lennon’s side in the Highlands in February proved the final act in his second permanent spell as manager.

Add in the complications of the international break, and it’s fair to say that Postecoglou won’t be allowing anyone to rest on their laurels.

“Certainly I won’t be letting anyone underestimate any opponent,” he said. “We need to have respect.

“The big challenge for us with this one is that we’ve literally had players playing all over Europe and all over the world in this last fortnight, and having been a national team manager, I know what that’s like.

“They will all have been playing a different style, different system, and sometimes in a different position.

“What’s really important for us tomorrow getting everyone back is that they start playing our football, and if they’re not really switched on that way and we are slow to get going, then that will give the opportunity for Ross County to take advantage of that.

“So, our real focus is as much about respecting our opponent as it is about respecting our football, and making sure they know we’re all back here now, they’ve got their Celtic jerseys on, and standing with the principles that we’ve tried to put in place so far.”