Toure In Line For Celtic Debut

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers insists he won’t be taking a risk if he gives Ivorian defender Kolo Toure his debut in Wednesday’s crucial Champions League clash against FC Astana.

Rodgers worked with Toure at Liverpool and was reunited with the 35-year-old last week when the Scottish champions signed him on a free transfer.

The former Arsenal and Manchester City defender sat out the first leg of the Champions League third qualifying round tie against Astana and also missed Saturday’s International Champions Cup defeat to Barcelona as he worked on his fitness.

But, plagued by injuries to three defenders, Rodgers was forced to give a European debut to 20-year-old Eoghan O’Connell alongside the much-criticised Efe Ambrose in the Astana Arena.

He still has limited options in central defence for the crunch game at Parkhead, which is delicately poised after the first leg ended 1-1, and hinted he could turn to Toure despite his lack of recent action.

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“Kolo will be in the squad. He has trained well since he has come in,” Rodgers said on Tuesday.

“We left him behind at the weekend to continue with that and I am confident that he can play a part in the game tomorrow.

“If I feel he can start in the game and he is ready, I will have no problem playing him.

“I wouldn’t think it would be a gamble, we are just assessing fitness at the moment.

“He is super-experienced. Kolo has had a great impact already in the short period of time he has had here but you also have to try to apply a little bit of common sense to it.

“He has only been in the building a short period of time (and) it is a huge game for us. But I have no doubt that his experience somewhere in the game can be required, if I felt that he wasn’t ready to start.”

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