BRENDAN RODGERS has told Liel Abada that the ‘Celtic family’ are fully behind him, as the manager revealed he has taken the Israeli out for dinner to assure him of his future at the club.

Abada has come under pressure from his homeland since a section of the Celtic support expressed their support for Palestine at their home game against Kilmarnock a fortnight ago, on the same day that terror group Hamas had committed atrocities in Israel.

The Celtic fanbase have long been associated with their backing of the Palestinian cause in their wider conflict with Israel, and the Green Brigade have made it clear they intend to continue showing that support by putting on another display in their forthcoming match against Atletico Madrid.

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That backing has led Abada’s international teammate Docel Haziza to call on the winger to quit the Scottish champions, with pundits in Israel also attempting to pressure the 21-year-old into seeking an exit, but Rodgers has stood steadfastly by his player and put an arm around him to ensure he knows he is wanted at Celtic.

“I’d flown back on the Sunday, and I went to a charity game,” Rodgers said.

“Then I left that to go and pick up Liel and took him up to Loch Lomond to have a bit of food and take him out of the city, and just get to understand what he was thinking and the traumas he’s gone through and everything.

“I don’t pretend to care about my players — I do care. I genuinely care about them, and I can always draw a line where that is, but I can’t say I don’t care because I do care about how they are. I always eventually think that helps them play to a better level.

“It is a tough period for him, of course. When you are ringing back home. His father had been over with him for a month, and he was going back the next day, so he’s had his girlfriend here and his father here. But, of course, his mum is still back there.

“So, you have to be there for them and to support them. I think as we see from a distance, it’s a real sad state.

“My job is to reassure him that everyone here at Celtic within the Celtic family will always support him. As a player at Celtic, that’s what they do. Supporters support their own and their players.

“Then us as staff and the people within the club all really want him to succeed and do well here, and he loves and he enjoys being here.

“Of course, there are always going to be lots of opinions in terms of people and what to do, but he loves being here. He signed a new deal to stay here.

“He’s keeping an eye on what is happening back home, but just working his way back to fitness.”

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Despite the issues their support for Palestine has raised for Abada, Rodgers says he would never tell the Celtic supporters they weren’t free to express their opinions.

“There’s no message,” he said.

“It’s a very divisive subject and I’m a football manager, I’m not a politician.

“My message is only we’re here to play football and to bring happiness to supporters, bring joy to supporters and that is what I always feel the arena of football is for, it’s for sport and for football.

“But there’s no message. People are entitled to whatever opinions they want. For me, my concentration is with the team.”