Celtic are reportedly closing in on Manchester United defender Paddy McNair and Aston Villa winger Scott Sinclair as new boss Brendan Rodgers continues to reshape his squad.
Despite already bringing Kolo Toure to Parkhead, Rodgers is still said to be unsatisfied with his defensive options, a fact underlined by yet another shaky performance from Efe Ambrose in Saturday’s friendly defeat against Barcelona at the Aviva Stadium.
The Nigerian international put through his own net before being nutmegged by Luis Suarez in the build-up to Barcelona’s third goal as he endured an afternoon to forget.
And with Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunovic still injured and Ambrose expected to spend a chunk of this month representing Nigeria at the Olympics, the capture of McNair would be very timely indeed.
After breaking into the first-team squad in 2014, the 21-year-old started only four games last term and it is thought that United boss Jose Mourinho would be amenable to allowing the Northern Ireland international to leave the club, most probably on a loan basis.
Sinclair, meanwhile, remains high on Rodgers’ wanted list, with Celtic said to be preparing a fifth bid to prize the gifted, if enigmatic, midfielder away from Villa Park.
The 27-year-old has enjoyed a stop-start career to date, emerging as a teenage prodigy at Bristol Rovers before failing to make the grade at Chelsea.
A 2010 switch to Swansea paid off as he scored 28 goals in 82 appearances, form that persuaded Manchester City to pay £8m for his services in 2012.
He rarely featured for City, however, eventually moving on to Villa where he has occasionally shown bursts of his undoubted talent.
Celtic are said to be willing to part with £3m to bring the former England Under-21 international to Glasgow in what would surely be something of a gamble given the player’s track record for inconsistency.
That said, there is no doubt that Sinclair is well capable of tearing SPL defences apart and at 27, needs to settle somewhere soon if he is to fulfil his undoubted potential.
Rodgers has a track record of backing himself to help players with a troubled background and while he notably failed to resurrect Mario Balotelli’s career at Liverpool, the Celtic boss presumably feels that he could prove more successful in bringing the best out of Sinclair.
As it stands, neither the McNair nor Sinclair deals will be completed ahead of Celtic’s Champions League third qualifying round second-leg clash with Astana on Wednesday, meaning Rodgers’ options will again be limited.
Defensively, Erik Sviatchenko remains sidelined, meaning a gamble will may have to be taken on the match fitness of Toure or 18-year-old Kristoffer Ajer could be drafted in.
Nir Bitton, meanwhile, is a doubt after picking up a knock against Barcelona, but Stefan Johansen should return after missing the last two games due to the arrival of a new child.