LUIS PALMA is standing by for his first start at Parkhead when Celtic take on Kilmarnock tomorrow afternoon.
The 23-year-old winger is still settling in at the champions following his £3.5million switch from Greek outfit Aris Thessaloniki just before the September 1 transfer deadline.
Brendan Rodgers predicts big things from the exciting raider who was so unlucky to see his effort against Lazio ruled out in midweek after Alistair Johnston’s pass took the merest of touches off Daizen Maeda on its way to him.
It looked a good goal in the 81st minute which could have transformed the Hoops’ Champions League fortunes on the night, but it was ruled inches offside by VAR. It was hard to take, especially as Pedro headed in a stoppage-time winner for the Italians.
WELL DONE…Luis Palma celebrates his breakthrough strike against Motherwell at Fir Park.
However, the focus is back on collecting Premiership points in the champions’ bid for their twelfth title in 13 years when League Cup conquerors Killie provide the opposition.
Rodgers explained why he gave the nod to Yang Hyun-jun to start the crucial encounter against the Serie A club ahead of the Honduran international.
Asked the reasoning behind thinking, the Irishman replied: “A bit more physicality.
“I thought Luis did well when he came into the game. He is still getting up to speed with the intensity and the tempo of it all. So, that was the reason for the decision.
“We have obviously moved the wingers around to look at the best possibilities for us in the games. But I thought Luis looked good when he came on and had some really good moments.
PARADISE…Luis Palma races away in joy after believing he had scored a wonder goal against Lazio. VAR put paid to his celebrations.
“He was unfortunate with the goal. The ball hits Daizen. If it doesn’t touch him it would have run through to Luis. He finishes it really, really well. But I expect him to get better and better.
“I also don’t expect these young players to come and hit the ground running straight away. If they do, it’s great. But they are coming from different cultures, different football, slower tempos. It is just going to take that bit of time for them to get up to speed.
“Until that moment, we have to look at them both and look at them all. Hopefully, they can contribute well for us.”
Rodgers, speaking to The National, added: “I just think Luis will get better and better with the experiences, demands and expectations of playing for a club like this.
“He has got the technical quality. You could see from the disallowed goal that he has shifted it and finished it really well.
“He played a couple of nice cross field passes and secured the ball. The young players will improve.”
DIDN’T HE DO WELL…Luis Palma waves to the Celtic fans after the Fir Park victory.
Palma made an impression on proceedings in midweek when he replaced Yang in the 62nd minute and did likewise when he came on for Maeda in the 76th minute against Motherwell at Fir Park last weekend.
It was the Central American who broke the scoreless stalemate with the opener in the 87th minute that triggered an astonishing conclusion to the encounter.
Blair Spittal levelled five minutes into stoppage-time and, astoundingly, Matt O’Riley claimed the points-clincher two minutes later.
Now Rodgers is ready to release Palma right from the start against Derek McInnes’ visitors tomorrow when Scotland’s title kings aim to consolidate their advantage at the Premiership pinnacle.