Brendan Rodgers described Dedryck Boyata’s situation with Celtic as “sad” as he prepared for the crunch Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens on Tuesday night without the Belgium defender.
The 27-year-old is not in Greece with the Hoops squad for the second leg of the third-round qualifier due to a back complaint amid increasing uncertainty about his future.
Boyata’s agent Jacques Lichtenstein claimed the Parkhead club had broken promises to his client, who was the subject of a failed £9million bid from Fulham before the English transfer window closed.
Lichtenstein also said: “Entering the last 10 months of his contract, everyone understands that he cannot put his career at risk by playing even slightly injured or at 95 per cent. Dedryck cannot put his future and his family’s future in danger by playing without being 100 per cent.”
When asked how much of a distraction the Boyata issue had been, Rodgers said at the pre-match press conference in Athens: “More sad than a distraction.
“He is a player that we would have loved to have here with us.
“He is a player that has been with us over the last couple of seasons and at this time it would have been great to have him here.
“But he is not and we need to put the faith in squad that want to be here and want to play for the result.
“And that is my focus, on the players we have.”
Rodgers, whose side drew 1-1 with AEK in the first leg last week, refused to be drawn when asked if Boyata had played his last game for the club.
He said: “It is an internal matter now. Of course it is disappointing, some of the comments, but we will deal with it internally.
“My concentration and focus is just to prepare the team for a big game and a fantastic game for us.
“That’s my only consideration at the moment.”
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