Brendan Rodgers was delighted with his side’s performance in the 3-0 win at Dens Park over Dundee that sets up perfectly Saturday’s Glasgow Derby at Celtic Park.
“I thought we were very good. You never know sometimes on Boxing Day, when you’ve travelled and been away on Christmas night, but I think you saw that the attitude and the energy of the team were outstanding,” the Celtic manager said.
“From the first whistle, we looked to impose our style on the game and create opportunities. In the first half, we got into enough areas and could have scored. Sometimes we maybe tried to be too quick with our last pass. We should still have come in in front. In the second half, we started well and dominated the possession and the creativity of the game. I’m pleased for the players because it was a real complete performance.
“We’re in a period where it can be a grind with so many games that can affect the energy. We go into every game to play that game and sometimes it doesn’t come off, especially with the dynamic players we are missing. But today it was very good – our mentality was strong, we were constantly attacking the game and it was just about having that patience while playing at speed.”
Paulo Bernardo had his best game for Celtic yesterday and that sets him up for a starting slot against theRangers at the weekend. Brendan Rodgers was certainly impressed with the Portuguese midfielder.
“For Paulo it was good. He’s such a mature player for a young player. He’s always had a great attitude at training. He’s played in a lot of big games, which is a challenge when you’re playing at Champions League level.
“He’s maybe not started so much in the domestic games, because he’s still understanding the style and what’s required. But he had a wee bit of everything today – he had a wee bit of dig, put his foot in, passed the ball and made runs into the box. He did great for the goal because I thought it was away from him but he eventually got there,” the Celtic manager said.
And if Paulo Bernardo was an unlikely Celtic hero yesterday then so too was Mikey Johnston who went from zero to hero for the Celtic support after coming off the bench to score twice to wrap up the victory.
“For Mikey, he can make that impact. The challenge for Mikey was the fact that he had played a lot of games back to back, and he hasn’t done that much for Celtic.
“The intensity, demand and expectation can become difficult, but he can certainly come off the bench and make an impact. It can give him confidence. The beauty with Mikey is that he’s stayed fit. It’s up to him whether he’s going to be a Celtic player, but we keep working with him and we feel he can come into the game and make an impact. We were pleased for him to get the two goals.
🗣️ “It’s huge because you don’t rely on that one person to score goals.”
🗣️ “Celtic’s best team has Carter-Vickers in it, it’ll be a huge blow if he’s missing.”
Scott Brown & James McFadden discuss Celtic’s scoring options & the importance of Cameron Carter-Vickers 👇 pic.twitter.com/sGm5XEuCck
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) December 26, 2023
Cameron Carter-Vickers sparks fears of missing theRangers game when he had to go off in the second half to be replaced by Stephen Welsh. “He’s hopefully ok. He felt a bit of tightness and we had said to him before that he didn’t need to be a hero. If he felt anything, just come off. We’re hoping he’s ok but we’ll find out in the next couple of days.
And on the prospect of Liel Abada and Reo Hatate, who are now both working with the squad, making the game against theRangers, the Celtic manager is certainly not dampening speculation that both with be involved on Saturday.
“They could be around it. It’s one thing being ready to start, of course. Liel looked good on the field when he trained with the group last night. We kept him at home to do another session to build him up. We’ve missed his running, his goals. He’ll be brilliant for us for the second part of the season.
“Reo is at a good level but not a level to start. We’ll see how he goes over these next few days. He’s training hard, working well and it will be like having two new players when we get those two back.”
🗣️ "In the second-half we stepped it up again. We had great backing from the supporters who kept pulling the team towards the ball, and eventually we made the breakthrough."
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) December 27, 2023