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‘I’M NOT INVINCIBLE,’ PROTESTS RODGERS (TOO MUCH)

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BRENDAN RODGERS is on the brink of becoming only the third Celtic manager in the club’s 129-year history to win a treble.

In his debut season in charge at Parkhead, the Irishman could match the feats of the legendary Jock Stein and Martin O’Neill.

The Hoops are a massive 27 points ahead at the top of the Premiership and are zeroing in on their sixth successive crown.

A 3-0 triumph over Aberdeen at Hampden in November brought the League Cup back to the east end of Glasgow.

And Inverness Caley Thistle provide the opposition in the Scottish Cup at Parkhead on Saturday.

And yet Rodgers insisted: “I don’t feel invincible.

“No coach will ever tell you that. You are always thinking of ‘what if?’ or ‘when might it come?’.

“I think all we can do is to continue to focus on the next game.

“The beauty now is that we have a little run where we can prepare through the week.

“A lot of the recent games have been about preparing, playing, recovering and getting ready tactically.

“There are just so many things you can do physically with the players.

“At least, now we have a week to prepare for the Scottish Cup-tie and then keep ticking the games off one by one.”

Rodgers started the game against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park without the talented quartet of Moussa Dembele, Leigh Griffiths, Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic.

The French Under-21 striker, of course, came off the substitutes’ bench with just over half-an-hour to play to hammer in a memorable hat-trick as the champions fought back to win 5-2.

The Parkhead gaffer commented: “These are players who always add that bit to your game, but we always try to emphasise the collective.

“With those boys out, you could worry. Listen, we’re a better team with them in it, don’t get me wrong.

“Stuart Armstrong has been brilliant and Tom Rogic has been fantastic.

“But it really has to be one team with one brain working with the same idea.

“One comes out and another one goes in. Then they have to perform.

“Of course, we try to keep them all involved and play a part.

“We are trying to build a squad that can collectively win games and perform well.”

With the race over and Celtic so far ahead of the pack fighting for runners-up place, there has been speculation Rodgers might take the opportunity to give youth a fling in the last month or so of the campaign.

But the former Liverpool chief said: “I am very much for youth and I want young players to be given the chance to perform.

“However, they have to earn the right to do that.

“It’s simple for us. No matter what team we field, whether it be kids or not, they have to win.”

One youngster who is likely to feature is midfielder Liam Henderson, who scored the opening goal against Tommy Wright’s outfit in only his fourth start this term.

Rodgers added: “As time goes on, he impresses me even more.

“You forget he’s only 20, but what I love about Liam is he’s got a great personality.

“The last time he played against St Johnstone in Perth, he gave away a penalty-kick.

“He was also ill-disciplined in his performance.

“But, going back to McDiarmid Park later in the season, you can see the discipline in his game .

“Also, he has got a goal in him, he can finish.

“His appetite for the game is good, too.

“As I said, he has got a personality and you need that to play at a club like Celtic.”

 
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