Brendan Rodgers defends use of Daniel Kelly, wants more from Academy

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has defended the use of Daniel Kelly in recent weeks after some criticism from Chris Sutton. The former Celtic striker and pundit had questioned whether it was appropriate to bring the 18-year-old onto the pitch in the 2-0 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle at the beginning of the month.

However, speaking to the media conference ahead of Saturday’s clash with St Johnstone, Rodgers said that he wants to bring players in from the Academy and try to fulfill the ambitions of the club.

“I think anywhere on the pitch, my focus is always first and foremost on the young players. I think it was one of the first things I said when I came into the club in terms of the overall vision, is obviously to win titles, to play attacking football, and that’s the demand for Celtic. But to do it with as many of the young players from our academy as we possibly can.

“That is very difficult to get nine and ten players but certainly, this club has consistently had lots of really young players. Then you are trying to balance that between this mentality that the team win every single game.

Daniel Kelly of Celtic during the cinch Scottish Premiership match between Hearts and Celtic at Tynecastle on 3 March 2024. Photo IMAGO

Rodgers continued, addressing the criticism levelled at him by Sutton, stating that his role at the club is to help develop young players as he says that he wants more from his Academy in the coming years.

“I read somewhere the other week, that we were actually being criticised for bringing a young player into the team which I find incredible. We bring Daniel Kelly on against Hearts – it was supposedly not what should’ve been done.

“Thankfully I look after the short and the longer term of the club, and that’s bringing young players in to develop, to improve, give them that experience and then hopefully they become better players because they need to get that experience.

“Hopefully, we can do that in the coming years, get those players in to help support the team and eventually become first-team players. That’s something that I will always focus on.”

Kelly impressed in the second half of the game against Dundee, replacing Callum McGregor at half-time and scoring Celtic’s seventh of the evening. The club are hoping to secure the player on an extended contract to ward off any interest from England and abroad.

Kelly has become a player pushing for a place in matchday squads, keeping out summer acquisition Odin Thiago Holm. The player will likely be involved on Saturday before Reo Hatate and Callum McGregor return to contention after the international break. The comments from the manager about the Academy are telling, he will want to have a steady supply of first team-ready players at his disposal. Bosun Lawal will likely be the next player that the manager looks to integrate after a successful spell on loan at Fleetwood Town.


About Author

Born just as Celtic were stopping the Ten, Lubo98 follows Celtic home and away and helps run his local Celtic Supporters Club. He goes to all the games and is a Law Graduate. Has a particular fondness for Tom Rogic among the current Celts and both Lubo and Henrik form his earliest Celtic memories.

1 Comment

  1. One thing I struggle with Rodgers is the amount of bullshit he likes to spout?
    Likes to claim and boast about younger players he gives opportunity to?
    Feel like using the academy is nothing more than a smokescreen currently, for the failure of developing young players this season to date imo?
    Celtic supporters in general are far more patient with one of our own, than a foreign younger players, where we tend to expect far more from them?
    All academy players are proper project players, as we have no idea how they could develop, and becoming harder to keep them within Scottish football, as things stand?
    Kelly and vata, both will face big decisions, come the summer, and haven’t a clue what them decisions could be from themselves?
    Will give Rodgers credit for trying to address this 8 homegrown rule, which Ange had no time for, and ran away from it?
    How successful will Rodgers be with trying to tackle the problems, remains to be seen yet?
    But for once in a very long time, there are potential options starting to develop in such a problem area within the club?
    Main highlight of the return of Rodgers imo this season?
    Still remain unsure as to whether that will be enough to save his job unless a successful end to the season is achieved all the same?