Brendan Rodgers praises Celtic player despite exit rumours

Celtic v Athletic Bilbao - Pre-Season Friendly
Celtic v Athletic Bilbao - Pre-Season Friendly / Steve Welsh/GettyImages

The Celtic squad could look pretty different by February. On one hand, Brendan Rodgers has openly admitted that there is a need to bring in more quality. On the other hand, there are a number of players who are not playing much football, do not seem to be a part of the manager's plans and could do with a move away.

One player who has been in and around the starting XI is Nat Phillips. But when January comes around, his half-season loan with Celtic will be over and he is expected to return to Liverpool.

Rodgers does seem to rate Phillips highly. But at the moment, Celtic have a lot of centre-backs. Liam Scales and Cameron Carter-Vickers seem to have established themselves as the starting duo in the heart of defence.

They also have Maik Nawrocki and Gustaf Lagerbielke struggling to get into the squad, even though the club shelled out transfer fees believed to be around €8.5 million combined to sign them in the summer. So, not extending Phillips' stay at Parkhead would be the logical step.

Rodgers praises Celtic player despite exit rumours

Even though Phillips is expected to depart for Liverpool in January, Rodgers has had nothing but positive things to say about the defender. And judging from the manager's comments, one has to wonder if there is a possibility that the club could try to extend the loan till the summer.

As reported by Herald Sport, 09/12 print edition (via 67 Hail Hail), Rodgers said:

"He came in on a short-term loan to help us in an emergency period and he’s been fantastic since he’s come in, his whole demeanour and behaviour around the place. He was injured when he first came in and the guys that have played have done really well.

“It’s the one position in the field where I’m reluctant to make changes. And when I say one position I include two players because centre halves balance off each other. That fluency is important, other positions can change but in the two centre halves you’ll make minimal changes.

“He’s had some game time, he hadn’t played for a long time before he came. He’s trained consistently after getting over that early bit and he has contributed very well to the culture here."

Despite Rodgers' praises, most Celtic fans have not been convinced by Phillips' performances. If he had impressed, the supporters would have been calling for the club to sign him on a permanent basis. But there has not been many such calls to be very honest and him leaving seems pretty inevitable and logical at this point.