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‘GIVE OLI TIME AND HE WILL SHINE,’ HOOPS BOSS

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BRENDAN RODGERS insists it is only a matter of time before Olivier Ntcham explodes on Scottish football.

Celtic’s new £4.5million signing from Manchester City made his Parkhead debut in the friendly against Lyon yesterday.

Hoops boss Rodgers wasn’t interested in the four goals his young team conceded in the second-half as he concentrated on the performances and fitness levels of individuals.

The French Under-21 midfielder lasted just over an hour before he was taken off, but did enough in that space of time to show his undoubted qualities.

Rodgers said: “For Oli, it’s only fitness. You see how he moves in the game – he could’ve played for them.

“He has the qualities to play at the very highest level.

“His range of passing makes the game look very simple. Can play short, long, can dribble, shoot. Oli has everything to be a top level No 8. So, for him, it’s just time, really.

“That’s his first game, 62 minutes were enough for him and he’ll just build up his fitness over the next few weeks and when he’s ready he’ll be a big player for us.”

Rodgers believes the match was beneficial in terms of giving his players who weren’t involved in Friday’s 2-0 Champions League qualifying win over Linfield in Belfast much-needed game time.

He added: “I really enjoyed it. Up until the hour, it was a really good game. What we wanted out the game in terms of fitness for our players, we could very easily not have played the game after Linfield was moved.

“But I have a responsibility to get as many of my players as fit as we can for the beginning of the season and throughout the season. For that, it was a great exercise.

“In the first-half some of our combination play and speed in our game was excellent and we should’ve gone in front.

“Once we make the changes it becomes a little bit broken and the level in our quality changes.”

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