EURO rookie Kristoffer Ajer has told Brendan Rodgers he will be ready to step into the Champions League cauldron at Parkhead on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old Norwegian is poised to answer any emergency calls as the Celtic boss prepares for the second leg of the crucial qualifier against Astana with the tie balanced at 1-1 after last week’s confrontation in Kazakhstan.

Rodgers has been hit by an avalanche of problems with midfielder Nir Bitton now a doubt after the 3-1 loss to Barcelona in Dublin at the weekend.

Erik Sviatchenko, Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata are sidelined with injuries and there must be doubts over the match-fitness of veteran Ivorian Kolo Toure.

Ajer missed the first leg because of a broken bone in his hand, but was a second-half sub against Barca – and has insisted he is ready to help the Hoop’s Champions League cause.

He said: “Before I came to Celtic, I had only played one game as a central defender, I had played mostly in the middle of the park.

“But I have played there now and I am getting more comfortable every time I play there.

“We are struggling with defenders because so many players are injured, so it is a big opportunity for me. Of course, I feel ready. I hope I have shown the manager that I am a player he can trust.

“It is a big game for the club and I would be excited to play my part, if I was asked. I am happy to play anywhere to help the team.”

Ajer has also revealed that he has exchanged text messages with ex-boss Ronny Deila who was in charge at Parkhead when he agreed a pre-contract deal from IK Start in January.

He added: “Ronny has sent me texts to wish me good luck. He told me to enjoy every moment of playing at Celtic Park,

“I wanted to wish him good luck, too, because he brought me to the club and it was just the way things happened that we did not work on the field together.”

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