WONDERBHOY Kristoffer Ajer is ready to play a key role in the Celtic defence in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Graeme Murty’s Ibrox side at Hampden on Sunday.

And his fellow-Norwegian and former Hoops defender Vidar Riseth is backing the 19-year-old centre-half to thrive on the big-time occasion.

Jack Hendry is Cup-tied after playing in an earlier round with Dundee, but Ajer is competing against Dedryck Boyata, Jozo Simunovic and Marvin Compper for a place in the Hoops rearguard.

Riseth, 45, said: “Celtic have a big squad with a lot of competition, no player will start every game.

“But I would expect Brendan Rodgers to name his strongest team to face Rangers and I would include Ajer. He deserves to play. He’s been excellent for the last few months and is a big player for Celtic now.

“In certain games, Rodgers might look for more experience, but in the last game at Ibrox, Ajer was outstanding. When Celtic went to 10 men, he stood strong.

“In the last few months, he has made a lot of progress. Ajer is young, but plays with an old head. This is a big game, but he has shown his manager that he can be trusted to handle the pressure.

“I am sure this will be no different and he will not let Celtic down if called upon.”

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