“It is a warning. We will look at what we need to do better,” Liam Scales

Liam Scales can savour the moment for a little while after being named in the FA Scotland Team of the Year, after his ‘breakthough’ season as a Celtic player was recognised by his fellow professionals. The news broke ahead of Celtic’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen on Saturday afternoon at Hampden where the Celtic back-four had one of their poorest games of the domestic season.

Speaking after the game about the recognition from his fellow pros, Scales was clearly pleased at the news. “I am delighted. I feel this has been a bit of a breakthrough year so to get named by other players means a lot to me. I am proud of that. But the focus is on the rest of the season because it’s far from over and there’s so much to play for,” the Irish International defender said, as reported by Daily Record.

Scales talked about the focus switching to the post-split fixtures in the Scottish Premiership, starting at Dundee on Sunday and admits that the cup-semi final was a warning for Celtic defensively and Scales understands that the team need to do better at the back.

However there’s confidence and also a recognition that Celtic is currently in the better position with a three points lead and a better goal difference. Scales does not buy into the theory that the 11 May Glasgow Derby at Celtic Park is a title decider because the other four matches remaining in the league are just as important, starting with the difficult trip to Dens Park on Sunday afternoon.

Aberdeen v Celtic – Scottish Cup – Semi Final – Bojan Miovski and Liam Scales battle for the ball during the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden on Saturday April 20, 2024. Andrew Milligan

“This is where we want to be, 100 percent. We are in the driving seat but you look at that game against Aberdeen on Saturday. It was mental, and it just shows that anything can happen. We need to be professional and on top of our game for these last five league matches and the Cup Final.”

Scales also revealed that there’s already been a defensive inquest into the events at Hampden on Saturday when the Celtic back four under-performed and yet again this season conceded late goals at the end of both the 90 minutes and then again in extra time,

“That is dead right. It is a warning. We will look at what we need to do better. We already discussed it in the changing room after the game on Saturday. We talked about how we could have improved at the goals.

“Obviously football is a game of small margins, so it’s about little changes that can help you avoid these things. It will be looked at closely because clean sheets are just as important as scoring goals. It’s a big part of what we want to do in the remaining games.”

Thoughts of the game against theRangers at Celtic Park have been put to one side with Dundee the focus and then after that Celtic attention will turn to Hearts. Only after that will the focus turn to beating theRangers at Celtic Park.

Angus MacDonald  scores his team’s third goal past Joe Hart of Celtic during the Scottish Cup Semi Final match between Aberdeen and Celtic at Hampden on April 20, 2024. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“One hundred percent. It’s not just about that game. All of these teams are in the top six for a reason. They are the better sides in the league and generally in form.

“Every game is going to be tough. We have a difficult game in Dundee this weekend and we are not looking past that. It’s our next game and if we don’t win the two games before we play (the)Rangers it won’t matter what we do in that one. That’s what we are really focused on.”

Scales was asked about his manager Brendan Rodgers, who seemed to be relishing the chaos at Hampden at the weekend. Does Scales think that his fellow Irishman is a cool customer?

Cameron Carter-Vickers with manager Brendan Rodgers as Celtic win a penalty shoot out during the Aberdeen v Celtic – Scottish Cup Semi Final at Hampden on April 20, 2024  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“He is. I think it’s because he is so used to it. This is all second nature to him. He exudes that calmness in this situation and we feel that from him. He trusts in his players and his philosophy. That’s why he’s so calm, because he knows if we do what we are good at doing, we can beat any team. He embraces this pressure and at this part of the season that is what it is all about.

“It is pressure and games can be tense and tough. It might not necessarily be quality that wins you matches, it’s about showing up and doing the job. We were just delighted to come out on top and have a Cup Final to look forward to. It was just a bit overwhelming. It was probably the craziest game I’ve played in,” Scales admitted.

And there was praise for Joe Hart too for his role in the penalty shoot-out drama with the Englishman making the save that won the tie and sets up a brilliant finale for the goalkeeper who retires at the end of the season.

“We showed good mental strength after going behind early, then going ahead a couple of times and being brought back to penalties. We trusted Joe. Mentally, he is the strongest player as well – in fact he’s the strongest mentally I’ve ever played with.

“There are more big moments to come from him. He’s got six big games left in his career and the chance to win two trophies. I’m sure he’s delighted to be in this situation and fully motivated to go out on a high.”

David Potter’s bestseller The Celtic Rising ~ 1965: The Year Jock Stein Changed Everything is completely sold out in print on but is available on Amazon kindle, with all the photographs of the hardback edition, for HALF PRICE at just £3.49

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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