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CELTIC’S FRINGE FESTIVAL OF FOOTBALL 

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CELTIC boss Brendan Rodgers has promised to give some of the squad’s fringe players game time during a busy December.

The Hoops face nine games over the course of the next 29 days, including eight Premiership matches and a Champions League encounter against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

The champions take on Motherwell at Fir Park tomorrow afternoon and Rodgers says the festive period will test his squad to the limit ahead of January’s winter break.

He said: “When you think about the number of games you play over the course of a season, to have that many in one month is a brilliant opportunity to accumulate a lot more points. That’s the focus.

“Tough games for us and every two to three days you are playing, but we have a good squad here and they will be needed.

“It’s important to ensure everyone in the squad feels part of what we are doing. We will need the squad, in particular, over this December period.”

Celtic take on both Hamilton and Partick Thistle twice this month and the Irishman has stressed the importance of group harmony even if certain individuals have been short on first-team minutes.

He said: “Every coach or manager would say it’s a tough ask to play that many games in that period of time, but if it is what’s presented to you then you have to deal with it.

“We won’t moan, we’ll just deal with it. It will provide us with the opportunity to work our squad. I’ve got a number of boys here who have been absolutely brilliant in training every day. 

“Gary Mackay-Steven is really up to speed in terms his fitness and I’m looking forward to seeing him play. 

“It’s been very difficult for him because he missed out over the course of pre-season and by the time he was coming back the team was already up and running.

“James Forrest, Scott Sinclair, Patrick Roberts – these guys were playing really, really well so it was difficult for him to get a chance. 

“Him, Ryan Christie, Liam Henderson, Cristian Gamboa these are boys who have been on the outside. All guys who have been working very, very hard who haven’t had a lot of game time, but they are so important to what we are doing here.

“For us to be at our best, the players who are not playing need to be at their best every day. They will be critical for us in this period and I’m sure they will get some game time.”

 
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