Tuesday 6 December 2016

Ajer stakes claim to be one of Rodgers' Bhoys

Jamie Holland

Published 18/07/2016 | 02:30

Celtic’s players pay tribute to those murdered in the Nice attack during a minute’s silence before Saturday’s match against Wolfsburg at Parkhead. Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire
Celtic’s players pay tribute to those murdered in the Nice attack during a minute’s silence before Saturday’s match against Wolfsburg at Parkhead. Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire

Teenager Kristoffer Ajer threw his cap into the ring for a starting place at Celtic this season with an impressive performance in the 2-1 friendly win over Wolfsburg on Saturday.

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The 18-year-old agreed a four-year deal in February while playing for Start in Norway but did not arrive at Celtic until June, by which time fellow Norwegian Ronny Deila had been replaced by Brendan Rodgers.

Ajer, who can play in defence or midfield, came off the bench in the first half at Parkhead to replace Erik Sviatchenko after the Danish stopper had sustained a head knock in a clash with the visiting keeper Diego Benaglio.

After a nervy start in his home debut, with Celtic a goal down to a deflected strike by Wolfsburg defender Paul Seguin, he settled down to produce a man-of-the-match performance as strikes from Callum McGregor and substitute Ryan Christie gave Rodgers' Bhoys victory in his first home game as manager.

Sviatchenko should be back for the second leg of Celtic's Champions League qualifier against part-time Lincoln Red Imps on Wednesday, when the Scottish champions will be bidding to recover from a shock 1-0 defeat in Gibraltar last Tuesday.

Ajer will be ready, if called upon, declaring: "I came to Celtic to play and, if the manager gives me the opportunity, I am ready."

Meanwhile, Richie Foran believes that his Inverness team can play better than they did while beating Cowdenbeath 2-1 in the Betfred Cup.

The Highlanders are the early leaders in Group C after goals from captain Gary Warren and Ross Draper arrived either side of a Dean Brett strike.

Conditions made life difficult for both sets of players, with a blustery wind and a bumpy surface causing problems.

And although Foran, who was making his dugout debut after replacing John Hughes during the summer, was satisfied with the victory, he reminded his players that he expects more from them.

"I'm pleased with the result, I thought we deserved it," said the former Shelbourne player. "We hit the crossbar three times and their keeper pulled off a few good saves.

"Overall, it's a deserved three points but we told the lads we expect a better performance, better passing. We were a bit slack to second balls.

"I enjoyed it in my first competitive game because I've got huge belief in all these players."

Irish Independent

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