BRENDAN RODGERS welcomed back Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig and Odsonne Edouard from injury in the 4-3 victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie yesterday.
That meant Celtic’s bright babes Anthony Ralston and Mikey Johnston, who have starred in the recent 3-0 triumphs over Motherwell and Dundee, had to be content to sit on the substitutes’ bench as the Hoops made certain of their place at the pinnacle of the Premiership.
Right-back Ralston returned to the top team for the first time this season against the Fir Parkers and celebrated with the opening goal.
Teenage forward Johnston also got in on the scoring act with his first senior goal and he followed that up with a double against the Tayside outfit at the weekend.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Mikey Johnston after scoring one his three goals in the the games against Motherwell and Dundee.
Rodgers, who saw Scott Sinclair rattle in a superb hat-trick and Edouard claim one against the Dons, said: “I spoke to them individually and they were very happy to make that impact for the club.
“It’s just that development. They are going to get enough big games over their time at Celtic. They have come in the last couple of games at a busy period and showed me they are progressing in the right direction.
“But sometimes these big games are about experience, as well, and to come here and get another victory in my third season is great.
“It’s never easy. The supporters make it a great atmosphere and I’m happy for them, as well. Two years running now they have travelled big distances to follow the team on Boxing Day, so I’m pleased for them the go back with the three points.
“That’s how their mind is over these last couple of years. We just focus on our job.
“You know that when you play Aberdeen in these games you have to fight. You have to show battling qualities, but you need to have calmness as well and the players have that.
“I have no doubt that, when a game goes against them, they will keep playing and get their reward.”
OUT OF LUCK…Anthony Ralston hit the Dundee post with Jack Hamilton beaten.
Rodgers also praised the impact of Sinclair and Edouard, who came off the bench in the 70th minute to score a goal and set up his team-mate for his hat-trick.
The winger smashed through the half-century of Hoops goals with his trio and the Parkhead gaffer added: “Scott knows where the goal is and he wants to be in there to score.
“He’s done it since he was 16 years of age and he has produced in the big games.
“He loves that type of occasion and all of his finishes were very good.
“Young Odsonne also coming into the game for that last period also made a big difference in relation to his penetration in behind.
“His goal was brilliant. To score with that composure and that poise.
“It’s a brilliant finish to dink the keeper and then he had the speed and power to square for Scotty’s hat-trick.”