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Team manager Rodgers salutes Celtic unity

Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to the collective spirit at the club as his side look to reach the halfway stage of the Scottish Premiership unbeaten.

The Scottish champions host Ross County on Wednesday night having only dropped two points in their first 18 league fixtures so far this season.

The Hoops manager has rotated his squad in recent weeks in order to deal with a busy festive fixture list meaning many key players have had to sit out at times.

But the former Liverpool boss, whose side sit 14 points above rivals Rangers at the top of the table and have already claimed the League Cup, says it is easy to keep his playing squad happy as they know that the team comes first.

“It’s just management of the players. We have a plan for them all and they all understand that in here there are two important things,” Rodgers said.

“First of all they defend the culture of the club, which is about respect, and they defend the values of the team. There is no individual – any of them – who is better than the collective.

“They all buy into that. When they score they all want to be with each other. They all have an important role. They understand that if we are going to play 60-odd games, win trophies and be at the highest level you can then they can’t all contribute all the time.

“Moussa Dembele is 20. He needs time. Let him be and don’t put pressure on them. Patrick Roberts is 19, there are other guys as well, and they just need time. So they will play a lot of games, hopefully they will win things, and they respect the team’s ethos.”

– ‘Full of goals’ –

Strikers Leigh Griffiths and Dembele are amongst those who have had to be patient at times as Rodgers prefers to play with a lone striker.

Following a flying start to the season, Dembele has dropped to the bench in recent weeks but replaced Griffiths to net his first goal from open play since the end of October in the 3-0 win over Hamilton on Saturday.

“Strikers want to score and his was a really good finish. He hasn’t had so many chances of late, I have to say,” the Celtic boss said.

“That’s why when I came in I said it was important to have multiple goalscorers. If we rely on one then what happens when that guy doesn’t score?

“Fortunately we have a team full of goals. We are on 50 goals and we’re not even halfway through the season. That’s a lot of goals and it’s because they are coming from all over the team.”

Griffiths, who only lasted the first half at Hamilton, should be fit for Ross County on Wednesday but Australian international midfielder Tom Rogic looks set to miss out on that match and the visit to Ibrox for the Old Firm derby against rivals Rangers on Saturday through injury.

Fixtures (all times 1945 GMT unless noted) 


Aberdeen v Hamilton (1500), Hearts v Kilmarnock


Celtic v Ross County, Inverness CT v Motherwell, Partick Thistle v Dundee, St Johnstone v Rangers

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