Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football Scottish Celtic

Toure will wait before making Celtic bow

By Andy Newport

Kolo Toure will sit out Celtic's glamour friendly with Barcelona - but could be thrown into action in next week's crucial Champions League clash with Astana.

The former Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool centre-back has yet to feature for his new side since signing last week.

And with the 35-year-old Ivorian international still lacking match sharpness, Parkhead boss Brendan Rodgers has decided not to risk him against Barca stars Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez when they take on the Spanish giants in Dublin today.

However, Celtic coach John Kennedy says Ulsterman Rodgers has not ruled out handing Toure his Hoops debut when they welcome their Kazakh opponents to Glasgow for Wednesday's all-important second-leg.

The Scottish champions - who claimed a valuable 1-1 draw in last week's opening third qualifying round tie - are worryingly short on defenders with Erik Sviatchenko, Jose Simunovic, Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer all currently unavailable through injury.

Swede Mikael Lustig has also been left out of the travelling squad, while Kieran Tierney did take his seat on the flight but may sit out the Aviva Stadium friendly after suffering cramp.

Kennedy said: "It's pretty much the same squad we had in Astana. Kolo is still working fitness-wise so he also stays back to do some extra work. It's still a bit early for him. We will assess that on Monday.

"It depends how he comes through the next few days (whether he can face Astana next week). If he shows his fitness levels are good enough, he is an option."

The Celtic players who do feature against Barca can expect a tough examination, Kennedy has conceded.

"We're playing a top team so it's good to test yourself against that," he said. "For us it is good preparation for Wednesday.

"Testing yourself against the best gives you a great mark of where you are at."

Meanwhile, Kennedy confirmed that Rodgers is interested in luring Scott Sinclair to Scotland. Reports claim he has so far failed with three bids for the Aston Villa winger.

The Birmingham outfit are demanding £5m for the player, who previously worked with Rodgers at Swansea, but Celtic's latest offer came in at just £2.75m.

Kennedy said: "There are a number of targets we're looking at. He (Sinclair) is one that has been mentioned but he's still a Villa player. We want to bring quality in and that is the calibre of player we're looking at."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph