IT may not be what every Scot wants to hear, but according to Brendan Rodgers, England have a real chance of lifting the World Cup. And worse still, if they do manage it, the Celtic manager will have played his part.

Rodgers had an integral role in the development of some of the exciting young talent that permeates Gareth Southgate’s squad during his own time south of the border, and he is delighted to see those players flourish on the biggest stage of all. Even if it might upset a few people in his current adopted homeland.

“Raheem [Sterling] broke into the team with me at 17,” Rodgers said. “And then he made his debut [for England] away in Sweden.

“I remember having a conversation with Jordan [Henderson] when I first went there [to Liverpool]. He had had a tough first season and an offer had come in from Fulham. I said it was up to him. I couldn’t promise him he was going to

play every game, but I could promise him I would make him better.

“He decided to stay because it meant everything for him to be at Liverpool. And from that he got better and better. He grew and eventually I made him vice-captain and then captain.

“To see the likes of him and young Danny Rose, who I took on his first loan when I was Watford manager, it’s great. They are a very good squad and have real strength in depth.

“Young Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a young player when I was at Chelsea and it’s great to see him. He is a big talent too and what’s unique about Ruben is that he is built like a centre-half but has the mobility and skills of a top-class attacking player.

“He is a wonderful young player. He is 6ft 4in, built like a centre-half but has great mobility.

“So, yeah, they have got a chance. I think they have a very good chance. They have very good players, all playing at the very top of the most competitive league in the world.

“As much as you might want to write them off, they are actually a very good team. I think Gareth has done a great job with them.”

On the home front, Rodgers is facing up to the first of what he hopes are four qualifying rounds on Celtic’s way to qualification for the Champions League group stages. He has expressed his disenchantment at Celtic having an extra tie to navigate this season despite making it through in each of the last two campaigns, and you sense now that his anger has dissipated into a resolve to make sure his side conquer the hurdles Uefa seem to be forever putting in front of them.

“What can you do?” he said. “It’s a way above all of our heads so we just have to deal with it.

‘I try not to overthink it. My only feeling is to get the players prepared as best I can, take care of the details and let’s get on with it.

“There is clearly a hierarchy. I suppose it will be frustrating for countries not seen within that, having to go through eight games. You certainly know after you get in that you have earned it.

“Firstly, it’s to get in there. That’s the first hurdle. Then when you do, it will always then be the challenge of trying to get out of the group.

“The couple of seasons I’ve been involved we have been in with at least two teams who are quarter-finalists. But we have to take on that challenge.

“It’s a major test and we can’t cry about it. It’s the elite competition in club football so we all learn from it. But year on year it gets more difficult with the financial gap.”