BRENDAN RODGERS didn’t hesitate for a heartbeat when he required a substitute for hamstring victim Reo Hatate after only seven minutes of the Champions League Group E encounter against Atletico Madrid in midweek.

The Celtic manager immediately turned to Paulo Bernardo to tell him to get stripped and prepare to launch into the action at a rocking, sold-out Parkhead.

I doubt if Rodgers gave David Turnbull a second thought.

This is the same David Turnbull who was in the first team ahead of Hatate at the season’s kick-off.

ON THE BALL…David Turnbull was a first pick for Brendan Rodgers at the start of the season.

The Japanese international remained on the substitutes’ bench in the Premiership opener against Ross County until the 67th minute when he got the nod to take over from the Scot who, by that time, had claimed a double in a 4-2 take-off triumph.

Twelve games later, Turnbull is a benchwarmer while an on-loan Benfica prospect is an automatic choice ahead of him.

The 24-year-old playmaker, who cost £2.75million when Neil Lennon bought him from Motherwell in August 2020, is out of contract in June next year and I think it is fair to state he has reached a crossroads stage in his career.

A genuine dilemma awaits Turnbull in the summer. I doubt if he will be satisfied to be a bit-part player, not if he hopes to add to his five Scotland international caps.

Unless there is an unexpected somersault in the manager’s thinking, Bernardo will be in the starting line-up against Hibs at Easter Road this afternoon with Turnbull again among the stand-by squad.

It’s a bit of a gamble by Rodgers who could be without both players by the time next season comes around.

Bernardo is under contract at the Portuguese giants until the summer of 2027 and Celtic have an option to buy in his temporary contract. I’m not privy to the details of that agreement, but I have been informed it will take a “significant fee” to make the move permanent.

LOAN BHOY…Paulo Bernardo is pushing for a place in the Celtic first team.

Benfica put a £6.5million valuation on Filipe Jota when they loaned him to the Parkhead club in the summer of 2021. They watched as a player who barely got a look-in at the Stadium of Light took off in Glasgow.

His value soared, but they were stuck with their original arrangement. At the completion of the player’s loan, agents were brought in to get a better price for the flamboyant winger which would have meant Celtic getting a paltry compensation fee for the Portuguese breaking the original deal.

Other teams were interested in Jota, but the combination of an exhorbitant fee plus enhanced wages for a performer who had shown little promise outside Scotland proved to be a major stumbling block.

Plus there was the fact the fans’ favourite was eager to return to the champions. The deal was done, Benfica, with a fair degree of self-recrimination, accepted their £6.5million fee and inserted a massive sell-on fee in the contract.

Jota, of course, moved on for a joint record selling fee for Celtic in July, matching the £25million the club received for Kieran Tierney from Arsenal in August 2019.

If Bernardo fulfils his promise at a team still aiming for European football beyond Christmas while chasing their twelfth title in 13 years, we could be in line for a similar scenario in the summer.

It’s all about risk and reward in this game.

Brendan Rodgers doesn’t often get these things wrong.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best action images from Hibs v Celtic this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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