BRENDAN RODGERS today looked forward to Saturday’s friendly at Celtic Park against Standard Liege – not sure if we can call these games pre-season friendlies any more as our season has already started, this time before the Glasgow Fair.
The manager also looked back with some satisfaction to the events in Armenia on Tuesday and with some relief concerning the outcome of the road traffic accident the next day in Cumbernauld allegedly involving Olivier Ntcham – the player has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal and the Police are seeking witnesses at the moment.
Firstly on the football, Brendan was on a happier subject.
“We have qualification games and friendly games, and we’re trying to give as many players as much game-time as we possibly can,” he explained looking ahead to the game at the weekend which kicks off at 3pm. And on that vital and impressive win over Alashkert in the Champions League earlier in the week, the Celtic manager couldn’t hide his delight at the outcome.
“The 3-0 win puts us in a really strong position. I was impressed by the players’ mentality and their physical fitness to play a game a week earlier than we did last year.
“What happens in football at this time of the season is that, once you tire, your technique goes. When you’re playing in those conditions, to retain that level of fitness in the last 10 minute and score two goals really show the level the players are at and how keen they are to get stronger and even fitter.
“So it was a good lead for us, although we still have to finish the job in the second leg,” Brendan said.
He will be aware of course of the display last night of the two sides playing for the right to play Celtic – barring a huge disaster – in the next qualifying round. Valur shocked Rosenborg with a 1-0 win in Iceland last night and it will be all to play for next midweek.
Rodgers will play two different Celtic sides against Standard Liege at the weekend. Both Tom Rogic and Cristian Gamboa have re-joined the squad today after a two week break when their World Cup campaign came to an end.
Marvin Compper has recovered from his injury and is back training but both Leigh Griffiths and Jonny Hayes are few weeks away from being fit enough to train.
On the unfortunate road traffic incident in Cumbernauld on Wednesday afternoon the Celtic manager had this to say:
“There was obviously a minor accident yesterday but thankfully the players and the other guy involved as well are safe and fine.
“There’s not a great deal else we can say on it because obviously there is an investigation on it, but thankfully the guys in both cars are fine.”