IT could be argued that the road to failure in the Champions League, at least for teams from so-called ‘smaller’ nations, is paved with good intentions. Take UEFA’s Homegrown Rules, for example.

This sets out that in any 25-man Champions League squad, eight of the players included must be ‘locally trained’, meaning that – regardless of nationality – they have been trained by their club or another member club of their association for three years between the ages of 15 and 21.

A perfectly laudable attempt by the European game’s governing body to encourage clubs to develop their own talent, you may think. But the reality is - according to the likes of Belgian side Royal Antwerp, who have challenged the law - is that it further stacks the deck in favour of the continent’s big guns, who already enjoy such huge financial advantages over the others.

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Celtic too fall squarely into this category, coming from a nation of a little over 5m people, thus having a limited pool from where to harvest their eligible young talent. The knock-on effect is that some of their imports, and often valuable squad members, are left out in favour of locally trained kids who may not have any prospect of getting near the pitch.

According to expert legal opinion, Antwerp may have a case that such rules violate EU laws surrounding freedom of movement and labour, and Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is among those hoping that they do indeed succeed in their quest to have the rules reviewed, if not revoked altogether.

While Rodgers says he is a huge advocate of nurturing academy talent, he also argues that not only do such rules hamper recruitment to even large clubs located in smaller countries, but also tie his hands when it comes to getting the best version of Celtic on the field for Europe’s showcase tournament.

“There’s no doubt about that,” Rodgers said. “No doubt. 

“My focus will always personally be on the homegrown players. But if it means that you can’t pick what would be your strongest squad because of it then yeah, that can be a deterrent [to signing players]. 

“I think it’s great that you have the players from your affiliated training who are able to be there. But at the same time, they have to be good enough as well. 

“So, yeah, within the smaller countries it’s something that could be looked at.”

Regardless of the outcome of that case though, Rodgers argues that there should always be a strong focus on recruiting Scottish players to Celtic in any case, being cognisant of the value their local knowledge can bring to the club.

“Definitely,” he said. “I think you have to look at that moving forward because squad planning is very important. 

“We were anticipating there were some players who were going to move on who haven’t moved on. But there is no doubt that, in the future, squad management is very important. 

“It is a big quality having that Scottish mentality around – players who know what it’s about like Callum (McGregor) and Greg Taylor and James Forrest.  Having that identity is very important. 

“If I worked in Spain, I would want a Spanish core of players. When I work in Scotland, I want a Scottish core of players who understand what it’s about.”

With that being said, then, has there been any Scottish talent that has caught the eye since he returned to the country in the summer?

“I haven’t been back long enough, to be honest,” he said.

“It was similar to when I first came up. I remember John McGinn being mentioned and a few others.

“There’s no doubt this is a brilliant country for producing players. Scotland has always produced top players.

“I was at the [Scotland vs England] game the other night, and the team is fantastic. There are some top players there. Scotland will always produce outstanding players.

“It’s about the opportunity for them.”

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The opportunity for Celtic to recruit those established Scotland players - those who might improve their team, in any case – is now limited. The one that got way, McGinn, would now command a transfer fee way beyond anything that Celtic could hope to offer.

At the other side of the scale too is the issue of holding on to their own truly elite young Scottish talent, as the departure of Ben Doak to Liverpool after a handful of first team appearances has shown.

“That is the challenge because I know only too well the financial resources in England,” Rodgers added.

“That’s going to be the case for the foreseeable, so we need to understand it. But it’s still a great opportunity for young players to come here. You might only get a few games now rather than 100 because of the need for talent.

“Teams are paying massive amounts for potential. I remember the young lad at Wolves, (Fabio) Silva, who only played a few games and went for £35m.

“That’s the game and where it’s at, so we have to find different ways of keeping them longer and then finding the next one.”