BRENDAN RODGERS was at Hampden the other night alongside Celtic coach John Kennedy. The pair will have been impressed by the performances of Callum McGregor – the best player on the park on the night – and Kieran Tierney who played well in his new role in a Scotland back three.
The Celtic management team will also have noted that three other Celtic players – all first picks under former Scotland boss Gordon Strachan, have become benchwarmers. Players from Rangers, Kilmarnock and Hearts were preferred to the three Celtic boys as McLeish re-introduced the system he employed at Ibrox during the notorious EBT years.
If they had something to say about all of that, they’ll do it behind closed doors at Lennoxtown. Many Celtic supporters will be rather pleased that the Celtic boys weren’t used against Albania – James Forrest never got a kick against Belgium either.
The Celtic manager has been speaking about the trip to Paisley on Friday night, in an interview with the new edition of The Celtic View. You get the impression that he’s quite glad, like the rest of us that they dreaded international break is over and we can get back to enjoying our football and watching Celtic.
“I grew up with Celtic playing games at Love Street when the two sides met and it was always a renowned Scottish ground,” Brendan said. “They have a different stadium now, it will be interesting to play in that for the first time.”
The Celtic manager had a word for Allan Stubbs who he expected to be facing in the home dug out on Friday night and for the new Saints boss, fellow Irishman Oran Kearney – who yesterday said that he wants to win the league with Saints.
“I’m obviously very disappointed for Allan and how quickly in the season he’s lost his job. He’s an excellent coach and manager but he’s now gone and Oran Kearney has come in.
“He’ll no doubt look to come in and work closely with the squad to get a bit of momentum going. We expect a tough game and we will prepare for that so I’m looking forward to going to the stadium and playing the game.
“I’ve never met Oran. I’ve been aware if his work back home in Ireland. I think when he first went for the job in the summer through a mutual friend of ours he wanted a chance to speak and we talked briefly for the first time. He’s clearly ambitious to move on. He did a very good job at Coleraine and after Friday, I’ll wish him all the best,” Brendan said.
The Celtic manager also gave a little insight into how he’s spent his time during the international break.
“I normally use a few days of the international break to reflect on the previous round of games.
“It’s been nearly three months so it’s been such a busy period. I like to have thinking time to go away and take stock of everything that’s gone on.
“When you’re trying to be creative as a manager you need that time to reflect. I try to take that opportunity to do that when possible.
“We still have a group of players who have still been here working. We’ve all met up now and we’re preparing for our next batch of seven games inside four weeks.”