Sunday 25 August 2019

Simunovic key part of Celtic's plans, Rodgers tells Torino

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers Picture: PA
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers Picture: PA

Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers has told Torino that Jozo Simunovic is still very much part of his plans at Celtic.

A potential loan or permanent move to the Serie A club in August fell through but Torino are reportedly set to come back for the Croatian next month.

The former Dinamo Zagreb player has become an integral part of Rodgers' side.

After the 1-0 win over bottom side Partick Thistle at Celtic Park on Tuesday night, where Scott Sinclair's first-half strike took the Hoops 14 points clear of Rangers at the top of the table, the ex-Liverpool manager was asked about his attitude to Simunovic and Torino's interest.

"They have probably seen how well he's been doing. He's only a boy really at 22 years of age and developing very, very well," said Rodgers.

"He's got all the attributes and still has improvements to make, but if you're a top club you would want someone like him.

"But he's very much a part of what we're building here."

Celtic extended their unbeaten domestic run to 21 games but were far from their best against a side they had beaten 4-1 at Firhill over a week ago, albeit with Rodgers making eight changes from the side that started the 2-1 win over Dundee at the weekend and giving 18-year-old Calvin Miller his debut at left-back.

Elsewhere, Steve Holland has been confirmed as England's assistant manager, juggling the role with his Chelsea commitments until leaving Stamford Bridge in the summer. The FA have negotiated a compromise deal.

England boss Gareth Southgate added Holland to his U-21s coaching staff in 2013, and hailed the importance of extending their partnership with the senior side.

"I am delighted to have Steve as my assistant manager," said Southgate. "I have the utmost respect for the way he works, his professionalism and the detail of his preparation.

"Our aim at the start was to encourage a young England team to play in a certain style and to develop a winning mentality; I think we certainly got a long way down the road to doing that with the U-21s.

"The challenge with the seniors is a greater one but Steve's experience of working with elite players and coaches at Chelsea means he knows what a world-class team needs to look like."

Holland joined Chelsea's backroom staff in 2009. The former Derby trainee went into coaching aged 22 and has risen to a level of prominence where Chelsea regarded him as a club appointment - whose presence would not be altered by any changes of manager.

Irish Independent

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