DEDRYCK BOYATA is poised to return to the centre of the Celtic defence against Dundee at Dens Park tonight.

The Belgian international star missed Sunday’s 3-0 hammering of Hearts because of suspension following his red card against St Johnstone in the previous Betfred League Cup-tie.

Kristoffer Ajer made a surprise comeback after being out for a month and lined up alongside Filip Benkovic at Murrayfield. The Norwegian was taken off 10 minutes from time to be replaced by Jack Hendry in a precautionary move by Brendan Rodgers.

The Hoops gaffer will still be out ankle-injury victim Jozo Simunovic who is likely to miss most of November.

Rodgers has seen his side claim 13 goals in their past three domestic games with six against St Johnstone, four versus Hibs and three at the weekend.

He said: “Collectively, the team needed to perform better and, step by step, we’ve been getting better. Leigh Griffiths a goalscorer, but it’s more than that which brings the fluency to the team.

“We’re pressing the ball much better and that’s a huge element because that allows you to win the ball higher up the field, you shorten the pitch and create more chances. When you’re not pressing high up the field then you’re much deeper.

“Our last three domestic games – against St Johnstone, who hadn’t been beaten at home for a while, we were very good and we took that into the Hibs match, which was always going to be a big test, and then we did well against Hearts, who have made a great start to the campaign.

“The intensity is back in our game, which is great to see and that performance level is very important to us.”

Rodgers added: “Fundamentally, it comes from how we press the game. We are pressing better and winning the ball higher up the pitch. The front players are not isolated. For us, that’s always been the method of our game.

“This gives us higher number of players up the pitch, so when you win it you can combine with one another, to try something creative and if you lose it there are people there to win it back.

“The basics of the game is better now for us. When we don’t have the ball we are tighter as a team, more compact and when we have the ball we are creating better space in order to play and are doing things quicker because we have the numbers in effective areas.

“That is something which has returned to our game and, of course, there is confidence, as well.


About Author


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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