TIME, as the saying goes, waits for no man. And in football, its ravages can often be laid bare in the starkest of fashion.

Conversely, when a veteran player makes a mistake or throws in the odd stinker, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they should immediately be put out to pasture. But following a week to forget for Joe Hart, such a conversation has opened surrounding the Celtic goalkeeper.

Hart is now 36, and while goalkeepers have played on at the top level far beyond such an age, his error against Feyenoord that allowed them to score the crucial opening goal in the Champions League and his sending off against Livingston have led many fans and pundits to question his future as Celtic’s number one.

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His immediate future at the club beyond this season was a live topic in any case given the fact that his contract expires next summer, but while his manager Brendan Rodgers defended his stopper, he admits that in the longer-term, the goalkeeping position is just one of many he is currently mulling over.

“Not only Joe, it’s throughout the squad,” Rodgers said.

“I think you always have to plan forward.

“Currently, at this moment, I thought Joe was unfortunate in terms of getting sent off last weekend. I think what doesn’t get highlighted is he made a great save for us at 0-0 before that.

“He’s at the age that he’s at, he looks after himself so well. He’s in great physical shape, but naturally in every position you’re always planning and planning forward, whether it’s goalkeeper, centre-half or centre-forward, you always have to have an eye on the future.”

Part of that forward planning involves the protection of assets, with Reo Hatate closing in on the agreement of a new long-term contract. Rodgers though was coy on such developments.

“I haven’t been made aware of that,” he said.

“I’ll speak to Michael (Nicholson) later, but I know - and in fairness to the club - the club have been reaching out to the agent for quite some time. Where it’s at, I don’t know at this point.”

There are no such ambiguities over the future of Anthony Ralston, whose Celtic redemption arc peaked this week with the agreement of a new four-year deal with his boyhood club.

The right-back faces a fight for a place in the starting XI – hardly a new phenomenon for him – with the presence of Alistair Johnston in the squad, but Rodgers is delighted that the 24-year-old will be staying around.

“I’m really happy for him, because - not only is he a very good player - he’s a big Celtic supporter as well having been here as a child and working his way through” he said.

“I obviously saw the talent when I was here the first time, and played him in some big games, then he had a few seasons where it didn’t quite work out for him. But I think going into the team when Ange (Postecoglou) came here, I thought he did very well.

“For me, I think it’s important to have players who have come through the system because they know that they’ve got the real feeling of the club there. I’m absolutely delighted that he’s decided to sign on.”

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The decision to retain Ralston may have been partly motivated by Rodgers’ recent insistence that he wants to maintain a Scottish core to his squad, not only to have players who love the club within it, but to help those coming in from the outside understand what they have let themselves in for in coming to the country.

“Guys like Tony and Callum (McGregor) obviously, the skipper’s outstanding at that role,” he said.

“I think any player that comes in here has an idea of the history. I think they then go through an induction process, where they understand everything about the club, and then they have that support whilst they’re here.

“The players, they’re great at helping them solve the problems, especially the new players coming in. It’s numbers of players that are coming into here, and the likes of Tony and that help them settle in.

“It’s not an easy transition. You come into here, and the intensity [is there] straight away. I know speaking to a number of the new players that that’s been a challenge for them. They come from a slower level of football, different climates, and then all of a sudden they’re into a high-tempo, high-intensity game, and that’s a challenge.

“Guys like Callum, Tony, James (Forrest), Bainy (Scott Bain), these guys are all guys that have been here, and some of the guys that have been here for a long time. They make that transition a lot smoother.”

As for the short term, Rodgers has a goalkeeping quandary of sorts to mull over before tomorrow’s trip to face Motherwell, with Hart suspended following his dismissal last weekend.

Scott Bain was the man to replace him from the bench on that occasion, but Rodgers is still undecided on whether to hand him the gloves at Fir Park or to call on Benjamin Seigrist.

“We’ll look at it between Scott and Benji,” he said.

“Both guys work hard every day, so we’ll finalise the team [on Friday].”