Everything Brendan Rodgers said to Celtic TV as part of a recent sit-down interview with the club...

How would you reflect on the first four months back in charge of Celtic?

I’ve settled in really well. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being back and it’s been great to work with the players. It feels like we’re home. I think steadily as we’ve gone through the season the players have become more attuned to what I’m asking from them and I’ve been pleased.

You spoke about that St Johnstone game almost being like the Lincoln Red Imps result from the previous time in charge. Since then, it’s been five wins domestically on the bounce and only two goals conceded. Has that reaffirmed your belief somewhat?

Yeah, I think that sometimes when you come into a club, especially with the team having had success before it’s maybe a feeling that there was going to be a lot of change, but my observation was it didn’t need a lot, there was just certain little tweaks within it in terms of what I would want to see. I think that sometimes that can get overthought, but it’s just a case of continuing with clarity. I think I’m that game there were lots of elements within that game where there was just - believe it or not - too much thinking going on within the game. I like players to not just run but to think and run, but maybe there was just a little bit more thinking going into it than what it needed to be. From that there, we were able to identify areas on the field of where and what that looks like and just continue with the game model in terms of how we’ve been working. From that point, the players have been brilliant.

The Champions League so far has been a bit of ‘what could have been’, especially thinking back to that Luis Palma goal against Lazio. With Atletico Madrid up next, how are you and the coaching team preparing to welcome Diego Simeone and his side, who are currently fourth in La Liga?

They’re an outstanding team and Diego Simeone has done a fantastic job over many years at Atletico Madrid. He’s been there over a decade and been really successful. We know the challenge, we know they’re a very good side. For us, in the two games we’ve been really competitive and we’re not far off being a good side at this level. We obviously got punished in the Lazio game and in the Feyenoord game being down to nine men. There was still elements in those games that I was really pleased with, and we’ll go into this game and look to give absolutely everything and see if we can learn from the previous two games.

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The injury list is finally coming down, which is pleasing I imagine. Cameron Carter-Vickers also came back. How are, for example, Maik Nawrocki and his rehabilitation?

He’s doing very well, he’s trained over the course of the last week or so, so we’ve virtually only got Stephen Welsh, who’ll be out and Liel Abada, who will hopefully be back in December time. Thankfully that’s starting to ease off and we’re getting numbers back, in what is going to be a busy part of the season.

It must be great to finally get your teeth into the full squad almost?

Yeah, you always know you’re going to have injuries in the squad, that’s the nature of it. I just think at the beginning of the season that, aligned with new players coming in and trying to adapt and settle into this environment, that was the challenge. The players have come through that really well, and now everything feels stable, and we’re excited about going forward.

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Liam Scales, he made his Ireland debut during the break. No doubt a proud moment for him and his family. You called him “probably one of the biggest surprises of your coaching career”. Tell us a little bit more about that Brendan?

Yeah, just on the fact that I hadn’t seen a lot of Liam, and in the odd time I had seen him in the was when I seen him score against Dundee United when he played in that game. When he went out to Aberdeen I didn’t see a lot of him, and I think the feeling probably was for him and maybe around the club was that he wanted to go out and play as he was 24/25 years old. Over the course of pre-season, he had played, but maybe with one eye on thinking that he was leaving. I said to him “Listen, you just never know. Just stay and work hard, stay focused.” Since he’s come in and taken his chance, and I think it’s not so much in Scotland, because he’s played in Scotland in a really good club in Aberdeen. He’s obviously shown that he can play, but the big surprise for me was when he stepped up to the Champions League level and looked accomplished, doing very, very well in it. In a matter of weeks, he’s gone from a player who has established himself in the team, and he knows he has to keep that consistent level because there are competitors now here. He’s gone from playing, maybe thinking he was leaving Celtic, to playing regularly in the team, to playing in the Champions League and making his international debut. That’s how football can work for you if you stay focused, and you work hard and stay concentrated. I was absolutely delighted for him, but like I said consistency is the name of the game for Liam.

Tynecastle is up next in the league, it’s back to domestic duties. It’s a place where not only you won your first game in a memorable late winner in the league from Scott Sinclair, but where you won your first league title as a Celtic manager. I imagine it’s a place that can bring back some good memories?

Yeah, it’s always a difficult place to go, Tynecastle. However, we’ll relish the game, it should be a great atmosphere. Sadly, I don’t think there are so many tickets for our supporters, so we’ll have to go there without our same support. However, we’ve shown already this season that we can go into venues that are tough and get the results that we need, so we want to go there and perform well. Fingers crossed we get all the players back from international duty healthy and fine, and we’ll do our preparations throughout the week and look forward to that game on Sunday.

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I have to get your reaction of course to Scotland’s qualification for the European Championships, with Callum McGregor and Greg Taylor part of the squad currently. That must be incredibly pleasing to see?

It’s obviously a great moment for the players. I’m delighted for Steve (Clarke) the manager, qualification for two EUROs is a great effort. I think you can see Scotland’s confidence growing all the time. They’ve got some outstanding players, but they play very much like a team, like a club side, and that’s a huge testament to Steve and his staff and what they’ve been able to cultivate whilst he’s been there working. Great for them, great for the country, and obviously it’s an exciting time looking through to next summer and all the players will be looking to be in that squad. For the likes of Greg and Callum, Callum’s been a real instrumental part of that, an outstanding and experienced player now, he’s done great. And for Greg, he’s always been a loyal member of that squad when he’s been asked to be there, so I look forward to watching them.

Just finally, we saw you at St Roch’s over the weekend for their centenary game. Tell us, how was that experience and did you enjoy the game?

I loved the experience. I’d just flown back from Mallorca - a good friend of mine Willie Haughey was involved - and had seen that the game was on. I said, “Listen, if I can make it and be back, then I would love to come along.” I was so glad I did because it took me back to my younger days being in amongst fellow Celtic people, whose love is all about Celtic. Great to see some of the older players, and just to understand the relationship between St Roch’s and Jimmy McGrory’s story with Celtic. It was a brilliant day,  but being around the supporters made me feel like I was when I was younger, just true Celtic people who love the club. Of course, it was raising money as well, and it looked like it was a great day. Being able to see the fans and meet people who organised it, it was really good, and I was delighted I could make it.