'When he's ready, if he ever is, he'll be able to give us everything'

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has pledged his support for Liel Abada.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has promised his support to Israeli winger Liel Abada during his absence from the first team, saying that the player’s concerns for his family during the ongoing conflict in the Middle East are far more important than football.

The international winger hasn’t played a full 90 minutes since returning from injury in December and was left out of the squad for the cup clash with St Mirren last week, with Rodgers explaining he was not in the right frame of mind to play.

Abada was given time off to “clear his mind” and though he was back in training on Friday, Rodgers said the situation hadn’t changed.

The Celtic boss couldn’t put a date on the player’s return to action but said: “When he’s ready, if he ever is ready, then he’ll be able to give us everything”.

Pressed on whether that meant the club would have to look at a loan move for the 22-year-old, Rodgers replied: “It’s a possibility. We’ll see but we’ll work together on it”.

The manager said that he was continuing to talk with Abada regularly and that football had to take a back seat as the player dealt with the impact of Israel’s conflict with Hamas and the situation in Gaza.

“It’s still the same situation,” Rodgers said. “I’ve had lots of conversations with Liel and I’m really empathetic towards the issue that he has.

“It’s more than football. It’s at a human level and I have to respect that.

“But he’s training and he’s working away but this period is all about the mind and if you’re not quite right or ready then firstly I can’t take any risk with him. I’ll always support. And obviously I have to protect the squad as well. It’s ongoing and we’ll just assess it.

“I take a great responsibility for his care. That’s why we’re here. My job isn’t just to look after him as a football manager, he’s a young guy of 22, far, far away from home.

“People can talk about what’s going on there but this is the reality for him. It’s his life. Every single day and night. His family’s in a war so it’s a really tough situation for him.

“It’s my job, like I’ve done with numbers of players before, to just take the human aspect and look after him.”

Rodgers admitted that he hadn’t had to deal with a situation like it before in football but that it was important to put the game in perspective.

“Family’s more than football,” he said. “That’s ultimately where it’s at.

“This is family and life and while this is an incredible profession and a great job, it’s not more important than life.”

Abada joined Celtic from Maccabi Petah Tikva in 2021 and quickly established himself as an important and talented first team player.

The winger has 29 goals and 22 assists from 112 appearances and signed a new contract last year that runs until 2027.

“He’s a young guy who has done great for this club,” Rodgers said. “It’s the sadness of it, where he re-signed for us because he had that great belief that he could go on and develop.

“Then he had a period out with injury, which was a shame. And now having come back, he’s found it a real challenge.

“But I’m here for him and to support him and everything else is secondary to that.”

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