The 10 players who could be shown the Celtic Park exit by Brendan Rodgers

During transfer windows, it is only natural for us to yearn for news of new signings. With social media creating a thirst for constant information and updates, football fans get to a point online where they almost demand that their clubs splash the cash.

Cash isn’t a problem for Celtic, but with three incomings already confirmed, and another two in the pipeline, Brendan Rodgers has insisted that he’ll be patient in his approach to bolstering his treble-winning squad further.

The gaffer has also revealed that he wants to trim the current group, and that some peripheral members of his team have already been told they are surplus to requirements.

Is there such a thing as an ideal squad size? Brendan thinks that the core group should consist of 17, with the long-list taking that number to 25.

If we include B-Team graduates Rocco Vata, Ben Summers, Bosun Lawal and Tobi Oluwayemi, Celtic have 35 first-team players. That doesn’t include those out on loan – Adam Montgomery, Yosuke Ideguchi and Johnny Kenny – so the pool is undeniably bloated.

Who should go?

When reviewing the squad, with the purpose of trimming it by 10 down to 25, we will all have our own opinions on who should be let go. Here are my 10 for the chop:

Scott Bain

The 31-year-old goalie has played 75 games in five-and-a-half years for Celtic. Last season, he managed a meagre 90 minutes and, when given the gloves, had a shocker against his former side, Hibs.

Although not officially announced by the club, Bain was reportedly handed a new three-year deal in May. With plenty of interest from English clubs around that time, let’s hope Celtic were merely protecting their asset.

We have already offloaded two keepers, but Bain cannot be kept as third-choice for simply being good around the dressing-room or to maintain the home-grown quota.

Liam Scales

A season-long loan deal at Aberdeen resulted in 39 appearances for last season’s most topsy-turvy club.

Scales went from the lows of suffering defeat to sixth-tier Darvel in the Scottish Cup, to the highs of scoring a peach against Rangers at Pittodrie.

Celtic will want their half-million investment back for the Irish defender, which will more than likely rule Aberdeen out of the chase, but Scales needs to follow up last season with another 40-50 games, which he won’t get at Parkhead.

Osaze Urhoghide

After two years at the club, Urhoghide has played just 90 minutes of first-team football for Celtic.

The centre-back’s time in Belgium will serve him well, but he hasn’t shown that he’s suited to the possession-based football Rodgers will play.

Hopefully his performances in Belgium’s top-tier will convince a Jupiler Pro League club to sign Osaze permanently.

Stephen Welsh

Having made 24 appearances in Ange Postecoglou’s first season at Celtic, Welsh only turned out 6 times last season.

This was disappointing for a player who wasn’t trusted in the Scottish Cup final despite Ange having just one natural centre-half available.

The 23-year-old has previously had interest from Hellas Verona, Udinese and Toulouse, and he should move on to avoid further stagnation.

Ismaila Soro

The Ivorian midfielder was a January 2020 signing who showed some promise during the dark days of the ‘lockdown season’. Indeed, Soro’s performances were so impressive after breaking into the side under Neil Lennon that the then 22-year-old piqued the interest of a certain Tottenham Hotspur.

Ange seen enough in the 19 appearances he handed him during the Australian’s first season in Glasgow to realise that he simply wasn’t disciplined enough to make an impact in the side (he averaged a booking every 165 minutes that season).

A season-long loan followed in Portugal with Arouca, who opted to sign ex-Celt Eboue Kouassi permanently instead.


James McCarthy

Then we are faced with the peculiar case of James McCarthy…

When we handed him a five-year-deal at the age of 30, he had averaged 793 minutes of football per-season over the previous five campaigns for Everton and Crystal Palace. On average, that’s the equivalent of fewer than nine x 90-minute games of football per-season over a period of five years.

Remarkably, since James came to Celtic, his average has dropped to 401 minutes of football per-season over the last two years. On average, that’s the equivalent of fewer than five x 90-minute games of football per-season since he signed.

If anyone wishes to argue the case for keeping a 32-year-old James McCarthy any longer, then I’m all ears.

Liam Shaw

It cost £300,000 to prise the 20-year-old defensive midfielder away from Sheffield Wednesday two years ago.

Since then, he has made two appearances (totalling 74 minutes) during Ange Postecoglou’s first season, and has spent the rest of the time on loan at Motherwell and in the third tier of English football with Morecambe, who were relegated to the fourth tier during Shaw’s time with The Shrimps.

The Sheffield Wednesday experiment, which involved Shaw and Urhoghide becoming Postecoglou’s ‘first signings’, hasn’t worked and it’s time to let them move on and find their level elsewhere.

David Turnbull

The 24-year-old has just a year left on his contract and, at this stage of his career, will want to play more football than the 1,214 minutes he managed to tally up last season. Celtic will also be looking to cash in on their asset should Turnbull show any reluctance to extend his stay.

Will his style be suited to Rodgers’ promise of aggressive and attacking football? Can Rodgers transform Turnbull into the player we know he can be?

I’d love him to prove me wrong, but Turnbull should look at how well Liam Henderson, Josh Doig, Lewis Ferguson and Aaron Hickey have done since leaving Scotland for Italy. He shares an agent with at least two of them and I’m sure there would be no shortage of Italian suitors for a player of Turnbull’s undoubted talent.

Mikey Johnston

We have now had this discussion for the past three pre-seasons – will this be the year where Mikey fulfills his potential?

All the data says it isn’t, and that he won’t.

Mikey spent last season in the Portuguese top flight on loan with Vitória de Guimarães, where he managed a career best in minutes played (1,612). His average over the previous five seasons for Celtic was 757.

This season away from Parkhead resulted in Mikey winning full international recognition for Ireland, and things were looking up for the 24-year-old, particularly with his old mentor, Brendan Rodgers, back in the building.

Then he suffered another injury and will be missing for three months.

Like Welsh and Turnbull, I’d love Mikey to prove me wrong, but I’d wager that his time is up.

Albian Ajeti

Proof that throwing £5 million at an EPL player and hoping he is the answer is really not a strategy we should ever use again.

Yes, and we could have had Ivan Toney.

Ajeti has been an unmitigated disaster of a signing, and we will be lucky (like Barkas before him) to recoup any of the £5 million we paid for him.


Of the ten above, if Brendan Rodgers was going to revitalise any of their Celtic careers, I’d offer hope for Welsh, Johnston or Turnbull.

I look at all those players, and ask myself whether I’d be confident going into a game at Ibrox, a cup final, or a Champions League game with them in my line-up. Most of them would be a resounding no, and that speaks volumes.


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