Steven Gerrard: Brendan Rodgers refuses to be drawn on Celtic link

Brendan Rodgers, Steven Gerrard
Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard worked together at Liverpool from 2012 to 2015

Brendan Rodgers believes Steven Gerrard possesses the qualities to move into coaching or management, but played down speculation of him joining Celtic.

Gerrard has announced his departure from LA Galaxy, and has been linked with a move to Glasgow to reunite with his former Liverpool manager.

Rodgers was fulsome in his praise of Gerrard, but distanced himself from the possibility of a move to Parkhead.

"Players coming into the club I never speculate on," Rodgers said.

"With regards to Steven, he's been an incredible player.

"I had a number of years with him at Liverpool when he was absolutely brilliant for me.

"It's that time of the year now, we're getting towards the January window, Stevie's time has finished out there at Galaxy, so there's speculation about where he might go.

"Of course there's a natural look at Celtic because of the size of the club, it's a club he admired, and I've got some of my former players here working with me. But we always keep our business behind closed doors.

"[Coaching] is something I'm sure he would want to do. Back [at Liverpool], him and Kolo Toure were doing their B Licence coaching badges - I know that Kolo has just passed his, which is great for him - but they were both great warriors and players.

Steven Gerrard
Gerrard is to leave LA Galaxy after an 18-month spell in the MLS

"I'm sure if they want to stay in the game beyond the playing side then the coaching element is something they'll look to.

"Steven certainly had those qualities, but it's what you then want to do with that, being a coach or a manager is hard work."

International duty hampers team selection

Rodgers is preparing his side for the visit to Rugby Park on Friday, and admitted the timing of the game is not helpful with so many of his players having been away on international duty.

Australia's Tom Rogic and Honduras's Emilio Izaguirre will only return to Scotland tomorrow, and the Celtic manager admitted that the Friday night kick-off coming so soon after the international matches will influence his team selection.

"It isn't ideal, if you look that we had 14 players away during this break, over 50% of the squad," Rodgers said.

"I would assume that we probably have the most international players away on duty, yet we the team playing on Friday, which means I'll really need to have a look at the team in terms of the set-up and the fitness of the players.

"It's not ideal preparation. They never usually are on the back of an international break anyway, but if we'd had an extra day that would have benefited us greatly.

"I'm always happy for the players to go away internationally and play. I always say to them to focus on doing their best for their country, and it sometimes keeps them ticking over in terms of games.

Nir Bitton
Nir Bitton was sent home from the Israel squad after a row with head coach Elisha Levy

"Moussa [Dembele] had some minutes, he comes back having scored two goals, playing really well and full of confidence. So it's important for them to represent their national team, do well, but then come back and focus on doing well for Celtic."

Rodgers was full of praise for Dembele, who scored twice for France under-21s in their 3-2 win over England under-21s on Monday, and joked that the striker has already claimed free-kick taking duties after converting a set-piece during the game.

Bitton back after Israel row

The Celtic manager also revealed that he has spoken to Nir Bitton about the midfielder being sent home by Israel ahead of their fixture with Albania following a row with the head coach Elisha Levy.

"That was something between him and his coach," Rodgers said. "I've never had a problem with him, he's been an excellent professional.

"When I asked him to come back early in pre-season, he was one of the first ones to come back.

"He was due to have a longer rest period, but he came back virtually straight away and I've never had one issue with him in my time here.

"He's a very important member of our squad. I've spoken to him on the issue. He has his opinion on it. But the focus is very much on Celtic and getting back to working here."

Top Stories