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Rodgers admits Celtic are at the end of squad 'cycle'

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A clear-out of fringe players will bring the Celtic squad back to what Rodgers considers an acceptable level. Photo: PA

A clear-out of fringe players will bring the Celtic squad back to what Rodgers considers an acceptable level. Photo: PA

A clear-out of fringe players will bring the Celtic squad back to what Rodgers considers an acceptable level. Photo: PA

While Celtic attempt to secure European football until Christmas and prepare for the first Old Firm derby match of the season, Brendan Rodgers must handle a churn of entrances and exits at the end of what the manager regards as the "first cycle" of his time at Parkhead.

The Scottish transfer window ends at midnight tomorrow, by which time Moussa Dembele will be back in his French homeland if a bid for the striker - understood to be from Lyon - is accepted.

Dedryck Boyata, too, could be on the move if any of the clubs from France, Italy or Spain who have expressed interest follow up with an offer for the Belgium defender. In addition, a clear-out of fringe players will bring the Celtic squad back to what Rodgers considers an acceptable level.

All of which has to be addressed between two games which will have a significant bearing on the first half of the champions' season.

"Celtic is a club with cycles and this is the first of them in my time," Rodgers said. "There's always something. They say about football management that you're always in it, but it depends how deep - ankle-deep, knee-deep or neck-deep. You've just got to keep it as low as you can.

"It's very difficult to build something here because every two years there is going to be a recycle. You'd love to be able to say we want to keep some of these players for six, seven years, but it's not the reality, especially now, when players can get offered three or four times the money they are on here.

"We don't want to lose Moussa but something has come up and he and his representatives have asked to explore that, which is natural. I have heard, I've read, I've seen for the last two years at least 20 clubs linked to him, of which we've had one team who have come to us and asked us to think about it. Even this one here, we haven't had a concrete offer, but there has been contact by the club that is interested, so that tells us they are keen to maybe do something."

Dembele, who moved to Celtic from Fulham in July 2016 for a fee of £385,000, is a classic example of the club's added-value transfer policy. He did not train yesterday and is available for selection against FK Suduva in tonight's second leg of the Europa League play-off, but is an improbable participant at Parkhead unless the move falls through.

Nor is Odsonne Edouard a likely participant against the Lithuanian champions, whom Celtic lead on away goals after a 1-1 draw in the first instalment, because - given the possible departure of Dembele - the chances are that he will be held back with the Rangers game at home on Sunday in mind.

"He's looking good and if he isn't, then he'll definitely be involved at the weekend," Rodgers said. "He has worked very hard but we'll wait to see what's the best game for him to come back in. He's fantastic player and a big miss for us."

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In respect of the culling of fringe players, Rodgers said: "There are going to be players going out on loan. Probably young players who will go and get experience. When I came in here, I felt before I touched a ball that it was too big [the squad] - one, in order for competition and two, for spirit. It's very difficult when you've got 29 players plus goalkeepers and the squad is round about that just now, so naturally, it's the same idea."

Celtic Park might double up as the Kasbah for a couple of days, but it would be costly in terms of morale and income were they to sustain damage at the hands of Suduva.

"It's straightforward," said Rodgers. "Last week in the game I wasn't overly pleased with the performance but we came together as a squad and spoke about our direction going forward and it's a time that can be unstable for the players.

"My job is to stabilise the emotions of the team and make sure we are focused on the football." (© Daily Telegraph, London )

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