Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers delivers warm praise for winter break

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers' Celtic meet Albion Rovers in the Scottish Cup this weekend

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers believes English football should learn from the Scottish game and implement a winter break.

Rodgers took his squad to Dubai for warm weather training during the three weeks off and he says he can "see the benefits".

"A lot of us [in England] were crying out for a winter break," said former Liverpool boss Rodgers.

"So, well done to the governing bodies of Scotland. It was very worthwhile."

The Premiership leaders return to domestic football with a Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against Albion Rovers in Airdrie on Sunday.

"The players have been looking very good this week," Rodgers said. "It's vitally important they get the chance to press the reset button. I've certainly seen the difference, having that mental and physical rest.

"You can still keep the great traditions of the game and in the UK that's the Christmas period. Scotland is a great example, then you can go away and recover and get ready for the second part of the season.

"There's no question about it, managers, players, coaches [say] it's what's needed. In Europe, they have the rest, it's only in the Premier League down south where they don't get that."

Commons back, Mackay-Steven staying put

Gary Mackay-Steven and Kris Commons
Gary Mackay-Steven and Kris Commons have attracted interest

Forward Kris Commons has returned to Celtic following an emergency loan with Hibernian while a number of clubs are interested in winger Gary Mackay-Steven.

"I believe Hibs would like to keep him," Rodgers said of Commons, who is out of contract this summer.

"But Kris has to have a think because it's not just about the next six months, it's the next few years for him.

"Everything has to be right for him from a playing perspective. Until anything changes, he's back here to work.

"I've had numbers of offers for Gary to go out, but he's not one I see going out. He's a very important member of our squad and in the second half of the season we want to be better. I don't want to be losing players like Gary and his quality.

"There might be one or two players who may not have a chance of playing, they might want to go and get games, but my intention is to keep the strongest squad that we possibly can."

Rodgers also wants to retain midfielder Nir Bitton, who has featured mainly as a substitute in recent games and the manager said there had been no offers for striker Nadir Ciftci, who has featured only twice this season.

January signing Kouassi Eboue has been granted a work visa but the midfielder will not be in the squad to face Albion Rovers.

And, of further potential recruits, Rodgers added: "Just ongoing on one or two. If I don't make another one I'm very happy with the squad I have, it's improving all the time and with more coaching time in the second half of the season it will get better.

"It's about getting the right players. I won't stockpile the squad full of players just for the sake of it."

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