Saturday 21 September 2019

Rodgers praises young Bhoys as title race enters crucial week

Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Reuters
Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Reuters

Roddy Forsyth

The closest Scottish title race for years moves into an intense week with four contenders jostling to lead the pack into the winter break.

Celtic are in front after their 3-0 home victory over Dundee, but have it all to do if they are to bring their advantage into the new year, with demanding fixtures at Pittodrie on St Stephen's Day and Ibrox on Saturday.

Celtic's strength in depth was on show as they overcame Dundee without Craig Gordon, Mikael Lustig, Kieran Tierney, Dedryck Boyata and Odsonne Edouard.

Manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted the performances of his youngsters players - especially Anthony Ralston, deputising for Lustig, and Mikey Johnston in the spearhead role.

The five absentees are all expected to be recalled for this week's games, according to Rodgers.

"They automatically come into the squad. They are big players but it's been great to see Mikey and Tony being outstanding," he said.

"Tony has shown his defensive qualities but he's not only been hard to beat. He's kept the field compact and he technically and tactically has developed in terms of when he presses and where he receives it. He's shown over two games that he can do it."

Steven Gerrard breathed a sigh of relief as Alfredo Morelos snatched victory for Rangers with an 88th-minute winner against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

The shot-shy Gers had toiled through the opening half in Perth and found themselves behind when Matty Kennedy scored on the stroke of half-time.

Gerrard brought on Kyle Lafferty to partner Morelos up front early in the second period and the Light Blues' pressure eventually paid off as the Colombian pounced twice to seal a 2-1 win.

"The first half wasn't good enough," said Gerrard. "Nobody did the shirt justice - nobody looked like a Rangers player to me.

"I had to have the honest conversation with them at half-time. I had to tell them what all the fans thought of them.

"It's my job to demand more out of them and we got a major reaction in the second half. Every single player to a man stood up to be counted.

"These were three really big points with the two games we have on the horizon." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Indo Sport

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport