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‘THANKS, BOSS,’ AJER PAYS TRIBUTE

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KRISTOFFER AJER has thanked Brendan Rodgers for rejuvenating his career after last season’s loan spell at Kilmarnock.

The 20-year-old Norwegian central defender was brought back into the team following the side’s 4-0 flop against Hearts at Tynecastle in December when their 69-game unbeaten domestic sequence came shuddering to a halt.

Ajer enjoyed playing his part in the Hoops’ 5-0 rout of Rangers on Sunday on their way to a seventh successive Premiership triumph.

He was an unused substitute as Rodgers’ men clinched their second League Cup in a row when they overcame Motherwell 2-0 at Hampden in November.

The international is hoping to play a bigger role when the clubs meet again in the Scottish Cup Final a fortnight on Saturday.

Ajer said: “I have learned so much from the manager. Playing consistently in games has given me the chance to learn and, hopefully, I can keep on improving.

“The manager is very open and I have had a lot of help, too, from Kolo Toure and John Kennedy. I just want to keep developing.

“The thought of the Cup Final if a big thing, but also we want to finish the league well. There are another three games and we would like to go out and win them and win them well.

“I think you want to have the momentum behind you as look to go into the Cup Final and the chance to win back-to-back trebles.

“As a Celtic player, you want to win silverware. We know now that there are a lot of games between now and the end of the season and we will be ready for them.

“I am looking forward to a break at the end of the campaign, but I feel good. I feel strong and I just want to keep going for another little bit.

“There will be time to relax after that.”

Ajer is likely to be in central defence when Celtic return to Tynecastle on Sunday. After that, the Hoops have Kilmarnock on Wednesday at Parkhead before bringing down the curtain on the league with another home game against Aberdeen a week on Sunday.

Then it’s back to Hampden for the grand finale against Motherwell with the champions only 90 minutes away from a historic back-to-back treble.

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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