Thursday 16 August 2018

Rodgers has no excuses for loss as Boyata issue grows

Hearts 1 Celtic 0

Kyle Lafferty (left) wheels away after scoring the only goal as Hearts beat Celtic yesterday
Kyle Lafferty (left) wheels away after scoring the only goal as Hearts beat Celtic yesterday

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers is uncertain as to whether he can play Dedryck Boyata amid uncertainty around the future of the Belgium defender.

The Parkhead club rejected a £9million bid from Fulham for the 27-year-old - who is in the last year of his contract - before the English deadline passed on Thursday.

Celtic's Odsonne Edouard and Hearts' John Souttar compete for the ball. Photo: PA
Celtic's Odsonne Edouard and Hearts' John Souttar compete for the ball. Photo: PA

Before Celtic's 1-0 defeat by Hearts in the Scottish Premiership at Tynecastle yesterday, Boyata's representative Jacques Lichtenstein was quoted as saying: "Dedryck is disappointed because he was made promises that have not been kept".

Boyata has not played since returning from the World Cup and is a doubt for Tuesday's Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens in Greece - the Hoops drew 1-1 at home in midweek - with a back injury.

Asked if the player could play at this juncture, Rodgers said: "I am not sure. It is difficult for a player. My concentration is on the players who are going to play and are fit to play and to see if we can go out there and meet the challenge and get the result.

"We will see over the next couple of days. There are a couple of issues medically with him as well and of course at this stage it is difficult for players, I respect that. But he is not disruptive."

Celtic Manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: PA
Celtic Manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: PA

Rodgers also revealed that Boyata's agent turned up at the club's Lennoxtown training complex on Friday morning.

He said: "I haven't had dealings with Dedryck's agent, it has all been through the club. The club have been in negotiation with Dedryck's agent from last year.

"It is clear we want to keep him but, probably right for him, he wanted to wait until after the World Cup to see how it went.

"There have been one or two offers for him but if we lose a centre-half of that quality at this vital stage, we have to replace him.

Hearts' Steven Naismith and Celtic Captain Scott Brown battle for possession. Photo: PA
Hearts' Steven Naismith and Celtic Captain Scott Brown battle for possession. Photo: PA

"The only other point; Dedryck's agent turned up (on Friday) at the training ground, which is closed the day before the game.

"He wanted to speak to me at 10 o'clock. I have a meeting with players at 10.30 and I said I couldn't meet him before but I would after I had done my work. Obviously when I came back after training he wasn't there. That's where it is at. But he is a player we don't want to lose".

Rodgers would not make any excuses for the defeat to Hearts - sealed by Kyle Lafferty's goal - saying: "Three games in seven days is very tough but not an excuse. We have to be able to cope with that. One mistake cost us".

Hearts manager Craig Levein admits that he smelled blood when he saw five changes had been made to Celtic's side amid two pivotal Champions League qualifying games.

Hearts' Kyle Lafferty celebrates at full time. Photo: PA
Hearts' Kyle Lafferty celebrates at full time. Photo: PA

He said: "I don't know what Brendan thought but he had serious decisions to make; the Champions League is worth a lot more money to him than beating Hearts away from home.

"I am absolutely positive he could do both but today he did make changes and it was another thing, along with our form, along with recent performances here against Celtic - positive thoughts for us to go into the game absolutely believing we had a chance of winning."

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