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Mikey Johnston's future bright with Celtic: Rodgers

By Andy Newport

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has described Mikey Johnston as a "special talent" and insists he is part of his plans.

It was reported that the 19-year-old winger could possibly be used as a sweetener in a deal to bring Hibernian midfielder John McGinn to Parkhead, with St Mirren manager Alan Stubbs also reportedly keen to take him on loan.

However, ahead of tonight's Champions League first qualifying round second leg against Alashkert at Parkhead, Rodgers said of Johnston: "He is very much staying here at Celtic at this point in time. He is an exciting young talent at 19 years of age.

"He is learning the other side of the game in terms of the tactical idea of pressing and how to work and how to recover but there is no doubt he is a special talent.

"So at this moment in time he is very much in my plans. We need to develop him, get him some games, and if that changes there is a number of options with teams that would like to take him, but at this moment he stays."

Rodgers, who hopes to tie down Belgium World Cup defender Dedryck Boyata on a new deal when he returns from holiday, was less expansive about the possibility of McGinn moving to Celtic.

Hibs have rejected two bids from the Parkhead club for the Scotland international, which were reported to be of £1.5million and £2million respectively.

The Ulsterman said: "It is something that is pretty much between the clubs and of course there is speculation around Mikey and John and other players but it is nothing to comment on.

"We just get on with letting the clubs sort it out and if they can then that's great."

The former Swansea and Liverpool boss stressed the importance of Boyata to his future plans.

Rodgers said: "He is very important.

"I always said that once he got into the team, Dedryck has done very well.

"He is an experienced player and his experience at the World Cup is only going to help him.

"He has a year left (on his contract).

"He is a player that we would love to keep, he knows that, but he is now on holiday and we will pick that up again when he comes back.

"I haven't spoken to him yet, we have messaged each other and he knows my feelings on it.

"He just needs to rest and recover and we will speak when he gets back."

Celtic's home game against the Armenian champions is expected to be a formality, given the Hoops hold a 3-0 lead from the first leg, but Carnlough man Rodgers said: "It is only half-time in the contest.

"We produced a really solid, professional performance away from home and we aim to continue with our good momentum that we have built up over this early part of pre-season.

"But we have to respect that they had a couple of opportunities out there, so they showed that they do have quality, speed and we have to pay attention to that."

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