BRENDAN RODGERS is ready to buy locally to strengthen Celtic’s Scottish core.
The Hoops boss has named his 25-man European Championship squad as he prepares for the Champions League season.
Under Uefa’s own rules, this means EIGHT players who have come through either the academy or academies in the same league must be included.
The Belgian club Royal Antwerp has challenged the legality of this ruling in court.
But Rodgers doesn’t see it that way. He wants his team to have a strong Scottish identity.
The Celtic boss said: “Having that identity is very important. If I were to work in Spain, I would want a Spanish core of players.
“When I work in Scotland I want to have a Scottish core of players who understand what it’s about.
“I think we have to keep an eye on that in the future because squad planning is important.
“We assumed that there would be some players who would move but who hadn’t left the club yet.
“But there is no doubt that squad management will be very important in the future.
“It’s a great quality to have that Scottish mentality – players who know what it’s about like Callum McGregor, Greg Taylor and James Forrest.”
The Antwerp case is based on the argument that the current regulation disadvantages clubs from smaller nations.
Rodgers admits he works with his hands tied behind his back.
But he will always support local talent – no matter where he works.
He added: “There is no doubt about it, it can feel like your hands are tied behind your back. But my personal focus will always be on the local players.
“But if it means you can’t pick your strongest squad because of it, then it can be quite off-putting.
“It’s great that you have the players from your affiliated training centers who can be there.
“But at the same time they have to be good enough.
“So, yes, in the smaller countries you could look at it.”
In his first spell as manager, Rodgers was heavily linked with a move for former Hibs star John McGinn.
And although he insists he hasn’t been back long enough to properly assess potential talent, he knows there are some tartan gems out there.
He said: “This time I wasn’t back long enough.
“It was similar to when I came here. I remember John McGinn and a few others being mentioned.
“There is no doubt that this is a brilliant country to train players. Scotland has always produced top players.
“I was at the game the other night and the team is fantastic.
“There are some top players there. Scotland always produces outstanding players. It’s about the opportunity for them.”
Perhaps the two most recent examples are Billy Gilmour and Ben Doak.
One was raised by Rangers, the other by Celts.
But before they could make a name for themselves here, they were both taken south as the lure of the Premier League proved too great.
Rodgers, who is preparing his team for this weekend’s game against Dundee, added: “That is the challenge because I know all too well the financial resources in England.”
“This is going to be the case for the foreseeable future, so we need to understand it. But it’s still a great opportunity for the young players to come here.
“Maybe now you’ll only get a few games instead of 100 because talent is needed.
“Teams pay huge amounts of money for their potential.
“I remember the young lad at Wolves, Fabio Silva, who had only played a few games and they signed him for £35 million.
“That’s the game and the situation, so we have to find different ways to hold it longer and then find the next one.
“First and foremost it is about player development and the most important thing is that they play games.
“But you have to balance that with other things. I don’t want to keep a player just to fill a quota.”
Gordon Strachan used to say that there was no better follow-up to an Old Firm win than an international break.
In the midst of all the madness, it offered two weeks of peace and quiet.
Rodgers’ makeshift side ended their chances of defeating Gers 1-0 at Ibrox two weeks ago.
And the Hoops boss said: “I certainly remember my first game up here when we won it 5-1.
“A few days later we were at the Nou Camp so we didn’t have long to really enjoy it.
“These games are obviously huge for us.
“Every game is big but historically Celtic v Rangers and Rangers v Celtic are massive.
“So to go out and get the win the way we did – with the injuries and stuff – was a nice way to start the break.”
Key defender Cameron Carter-Vickers is expected to be out until the end of October.
Rodgers also confirmed that winger Liel Abada will be out for three to four months.
But he’s starting to see some light at the end of the long injury tunnel.
Rodgers added: “We certainly won’t be weakened in terms of the squads available and I expect us to get better and improve.”
“The players are starting to get into how we want to work.
“When you arrive with a lot of players who don’t know me, you can maybe think about it a bit too much.
“But we are finding clarity in our way of working and the players are responding well.”
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