BRENDAN Rodgers has revealed that plans to “fire up” his Celtic squad this summer are already at an advanced stage and admitted he is excited about what next season holds.

Rodgers allowed Argentinian left back Alexandro Bernabei to depart for Internacional in Brazil on loan this week in order to get much-needed game time and he anticipates more players moving on at the end of the 2023/24 campaign.

The Northern Irishman believes he has a greater appreciation of the personnel that he has at his disposal after spending nearly nine months back at Parkhead and knows where he needs to freshen up and strengthen in order to enjoy success at home and abroad.

The ex-Swansea City, Liverpool and Leicester City manager stressed that he wanted to remain in charge for at least three years when he replaced Ange Postecoglou back in June and his plans have, despite the difficult season the Glasgow giants have endured on and off the park, not changed. 

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“I’m really excited about next season having seen the group and the squad,” he said. “I’ve now seen players who were out for a while and I want to develop this squad. I’m really excited about that. There’s a lot of work going on, on that front.

“Is it a chance to put my stamp on it? Yeah, I just think we lost influential players who would make the game look different. Those players weren’t just good footballers, but they were personality types. It’s hard when you lose that personality from the team.

“These guys have been great this season, with everything that’s been thrown at them. But it’s about seeing what it needs and how it can develop and grow.”

Rodgers continued: “I had to give guys who were here the opportunity because they’d just come off the back of a treble-winning season.

“But I also know because of my experience in football - especially at clubs like Celtic - that there’s a revolving door every three or four years. Even if you’re a winning team you have to fire up the squad again. That’s something we’ll look at doing in the summer.”

The Herald: Brendan RodgersCeltic are under pressure going into the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup quarter-final with Livingston at Parkhead this afternoon after falling two points behind Rangers in the cinch Premiership.  

Rodgers admitted he was disappointed that the treble winners only managed to bring in two new players – winger Nicolas Kuhn and striker Adam Idah – during the January transfer window.

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But asked if it was still his intention to remain at Celtic for several years, he said: “Oh aye, absolutely. Unless I get told otherwise, that’s my expectation. That was the whole thing I had to consider coming back here.

“In a funny way, I’ve enjoyed this season because there have been so many disruptions and hurdles. But I feel we’ll benefit from that in the long-term.

“We’re in a great title race and if we’d both won last week, we’d have still been two points behind with it in our hands. That would have been okay. We didn’t lose anything so we’re still in a great place.

“It has just been one of those seasons from the minute I walked through the door and stood outside. But it is okay, we deal with it. You find the solutions throughout the season and thankfully we are still there in a really good place with a possibility to win two trophies. This is what excites me now.”

Rodgers helped young players like Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest, Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney to develop and improve during his first spell in charge at Celtic and this term he has given Liam Scales an extended run at centre half.

The one-time Chelsea youth coach confessed he would like to see more of the outstanding young prospects who are coming through the age-group ranks at Lennoxtown force their way into the first team in future and will structure his squad to enable them to do so. 

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“My life has always been about bringing young players through,” he said. “We have got some really good talented players. We have to create a pathway for them, that is the biggest thing. That is a real challenge at a big club, but I inherently believe in young players.

The Herald: “You might not have a team full of them, but you certainly need to have those home-grown players coming through. If there is not a pathway they end up looking elsewhere. That is why I talk about minimising my squad so that your football strategy really becomes top, high-potential young players.

“You need to have experience, those guys need that support around them. So that is what is key for me going forward and observing everything in this first season here. Have a squad that is at a high level and has a high capacity to develop and improve, but also create a pathway for young players.

“You see the likes of Danny Kelly and Rocco Vata. Rocco hasn’t had a lot of opportunity, but at least he is now training with us every day, he is in the squad and he is showing up so, so well. I am sure there will be other players who will come through. That is the key point of my time here.”