LIAM SCALES is hoping to give Brendan Rodgers a selection headache in the months to come.
The Irish centre-back answered his manager’s SOS call on Sunday when he took his place in the middle of the Celtic rearguard alongside new Bhoy Gustaf Lagerbiekle at Ibrox.
In truth, that would not have been Rodgers’ pairing if Cameron Carter-Vickers and Maik Nawrocki had been fit with Stephen Welsh also in contention.
Even Nat Phillips, who just arrived before deadline day on a six-month loan deal from Liverpool, would have been a possible starter if he had been match fit.
CELTIC WARRIOR…Liam Scales is determined to give Brendan Rodgers selection problems.
However, with four players ruled out for a variety of reasons, the second time-around Hoops gaffer had to go with Scales and the £3million Swede at Ibrox with Japanese defender Yuki Kobayashi, who has yet to kick a ball in competitive football this season, taking his place among the stand-by squad on the substitutes’ bench.
Rodgers acclaimed the gritty display from his 25-year-old former Shamrock Rovers pivot and described him as “a warrior” following the champions’ 1-0 victory over Michael Beale’s side with Kyogo Furuhashi volleying in the spectacular points-clincher.
Now Scales wants to put pressure on the manager in effort to gain a regular place in the top side and he said: “Look, all I can do is do my best. I need to make it difficult for the manager and just put in good performances.
“And if I can keep clean sheets in every game I play, put in good performances, defend well and be good on the ball, then I will give him a headache, at least. That’s all I am looking at now. It’s just taking it game by game, doing as well as I can just to make him have a decision to make.
“I’ve only played a handful of games for Celtic and I had to go out on loan to gain experience last season. To be back here now and get into the team, there have been a couple of injuries that have helped that. It’s a chance I have to take.
“Maybe if there weren’t a couple of injuries I wouldn’t have got this chance. But it’s great to be in this position and I have to make the most of it.”
GOAL-DEN BHOY…Liam Scales scores against Dundee United during his first stint at Celtic. This strike came in the 3-0 win at Tannadice in December 2020.
Looking at his relationship with Rodgers, Scales, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “He trusts me and how I can play. I have had a full pre-season to get used to the style of play, so that was it – just go in and play my game.
“We treated it like every game. It is a massive fixture and there is that little extra bit of volume. But it was the same as every time – just do your thing.”
Scales, who spent last season on a temporary transfer at Aberdeen, is now eyeing making the breakthrough for the Republic of Ireland set-up. The versatile back-four operator has won six Under-21 caps, but has yet to figure in the top side and hasn’t been included in Stephen Kenny’s squad for Euro qualifiers against France and the Dutch during the international break.
He added: “There is tough competition because there are four centre-halves now playing in the Premier League for the Republic of Ireland.
“It’s probably the strongest position we have, so it is tough. I still haven’t been capped, although I have been in squads and on the bench.
“I’m chasing that first cap, that’s a massive goal. It’s probably the one thing I always wanted as a kid. This will help, 100 per cent.”