Top Line Summary

  • Johnston waiting for scan results
  • Oh and Yang back from Asia Cup
  • Carter-Vickers and Taylor still absent
  • Idah praise
  • 'Blue card' rubbished

Everything Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said to the media, ahead of the side's Scottish Cup tie with St Mirren...

Can we look at the other night and the fitness issues? How is Alistair Johnston for starters?

We are just waiting on the results of a scan for him. He won't be available for the weekend. He may have a slight fracture on the side of his head but we are just waiting on confirmation of that.

Is he a long-term fear?

I don't know. We'll wait and see.

In terms of other guys that are missing is Cameron Carter-Vickers any closer to a return?

He is back out on the training pitch but he won't be ready for the weekend.

Oh Hyeon-gyu and Yang Hyun-jun have returned. How have they arrived back?

They have come back really well. They have been away for a period of time but they look fit and well and trained really well this morning.

READ MORE: Are Celtic playing slower this year under Brendan Rodgers?

Does a victory and the manner of it, I know you would have wanted more in terms of performance, but does a win like this give you a lift going forward?

I said to the players before the Hibs match that they had 14 games to go and we had to give our heart and soul to every game and naturally that was our analysis after the game. We want to play better and there were spells in the game - the start of both halves when we were fast and bright and forced them back - but the analysis will tell us that we have to bring our 'A' game into the next match. You can't sustain it, you can't not play well in many games and expect to win. So for us, the work over the last few days has been to bring our 'A' game back. When you are maybe not quite at your best you need to have that heart and mentality to keep going to the end and get the win, which is very important.

A lot has been said about the title race this week. It goes on the back burner because it is Scottish Cup weekend. Is the cup part of the same process or does Sunday's game feel different?

I'm pretty sure you are a clever guy and the league and the Scottish Cup are two different competitions. It has absolutely nothing to do with the league but it is a game that takes us on the way to the final. That's where we want to get to.

Looking at the performance levels, as you mentioned, how many more gears can this squad go up?

I don't know. I always look for continual improvement. It is understandable as there are key players that have missed a lot of the season. The team has been broken a lot of the season in terms of that rhythm and the level of the players that have been missing. Added to that you have new players coming in looking to adapt the way you want to work and players coming in that have maybe not played for a little while. All of that leads to the team not being as cohesive as you want to be. The players are still giving everything. They are working very hard. They have won six out of the last seven games, so whilst you are looking for that cohesion and more creativity it is still important to win and that's what the players are doing.

A huge positive has been Adam (Idah) and his goals return. Can we get your thoughts on what he will bring to this title run-in and can his arrival benefit Kyogo?

It was important to get a level of player that could come in and contribute. That was Adam's first 90 minutes for a long period of time. What was really impressive was - in terms of his two penalties - the composure and authority that he showed. It is not easy in the timeline for him taking the first one and netting his first goal for the club and that last one which was going to hopefully be a winning goal. To score them with that authority was great. In the actual game itself, just him coming to terms with how we wanted to press the game and how we wanted to run in behind, he was constantly searching and he got into some good positions. He's only going to get better. He has to keep pushing himself. There are lots of players in the world that have talent but you don't know their names. They are playing in parks in various cities around the world. He has a talent but he has to keep ensuring that he works and works and if he can do that then he'll be a real asset for Celtic between now and the end of the season.

The last visit to Paisley will have been one that you enjoyed. Is it different circumstances this time around? Do you still expect that level you reached the last time?

I would expect that level. That's the level that we need to bring. Stephen's team are in really good form and has had a couple of good results. They'll see this as a chance because they are at home to avenge our last performance there. We played really well in that game. We maximised having 11 versus 10.  We will be ready for that.

Is it one of the toughest ties you could have drawn in this round given St Mirren's form?

I think if you look at it then it probably is. The form they are in and how well they have been doing speaks for itself. If you are going to win any cup competition then you have to get through various hurdles in away games and tough games and that is part of the draw and you have to accept that.

Obviously, the league is different to the cup. When you go away to teams like this that have been going well, do you expect them to play differently because it’s a one-off game?

No, I don’t think so. I think that Stephen’s (Robinson) teams are very well coached, they’ll play balanced and press at the right moments and be aggressive whilst defending the spaces. I think that something the game can become random in the last 15-20 minutes of games. If you’re behind or you’re chasing a game. I think we’ll plan and prepare for a game where they’ll defend well and together. The onus will be on us to be creative to break them down. 

Do you think a win in Paisley could kickstart a run of games again?

It’s not about that, it’s about looking to deliver every day in training and getting that mentality. We’ve been on a really good run of games and we get to the Ross County game where we were slow, but I think we missed opportunities in that game. It’s all about moments and decisive moments in the game. We missed penalties in that game which takes away a bit of the spirit. Listen, we will always strive to play the very best we can. That’s the demand here at a club like Celtic, and it’s not just about winning but winning in a style which is befitting of the club and the supporters. That’s always something that we’ll strive to do.

What’s the key for you from a coaching perspective to get that tempo right? Last time in Paisley it was there from the start, with the speed of the passing and movement as well. How do you make sure you get that each week when you go into games? Is it the momentum that helped previously? 

Momentum is something that you want to create, but it can go at the same time as well. I think it’s just about understanding and constantly understanding how we work and play and the demands are there to do that every single game. You can start off games well and play with that, but it’s important you maintain that. That’s the message, but it’s a part of our coaching and training and analysis. That will be continuing.

Is it important that Nicolas Kuhn got his first start on Wednesday and got him up to speed by playing more minutes? Will we see him getting better and better?

Yeah, I just think it’s adapting to our playing style also. We’ve gone through his moments with him and the areas. When you come from one team to another, the characteristics may be the same, but there’s still differences that you need to manage, and sometimes you see that when you’re on the pitch. Moments where he could have been more aggressive in the game, and that’s about positioning and being too deep higher up. These are all things that come with tactical training and analysis. He’ll get that over time, I’m sure.

READ MORE: How Celtic beat Hibs, thanks to Idah, Ralston and Bernabei

Greg Taylor, is he going to be back?

He’s very close, not sure he’ll make the weekend but he’ll be very close. If not, he’ll be available for the following weekend.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen the blue card sin bin trial. Is that something you think football needs? What was your reaction to the reports?

As soon as I saw it, I thought “Well, I work in Scotland, I’m sure they better have a green card as well as a blue one, or we might be in trouble!” Just don’t complicate it, just make a decision, whether it’s a red, yellow or no card. We don’t need a blue card up here, that’s for sure! 

We don’t need anything else to argue about?

No! No way!