BRENDAN RODGERS is eager for the Celtic fans to see the real Nicolas Kuhn in the countdown to the campaign’s crescendo.

There were high hopes for the £3million January recruit from Rapid Vienna, but it is fair to say the German winger didn’t exactly hit the ground running.

Kuhn claimed his first Hoops goal with the equaliser that took a deflection off Aberdeen defender Nicky Devlin in the 1-1 stalemate at Pittodrie at the beginning of last month.

IN THE HOOPS…Nicolas Kuhn scores on his debut against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

The new Bhoy had been sent on just before the hour mark for Liel Abada and netted within six minutes of his introduction with an assist from on-loan Norwich striker Adam Idah who had also come off the bench for his debut.

However, Kuhn faded from the picture as swiftly as he had entered it and the Hoops support wondered if he had what it takes to accept the responsibility of playing for a team where the expectation levels may be slightly different from what he had experienced elsewhere.

A tale emerged of the 24-year-old wide Bhoy suffering the after-effects of extensive dental surgery that saw him lose over a stone in weight.

Rodgers now believes Kuhn is fit and ready to deliver and the supporters got a glimpse of his qualities in the 4-2 Scottish Cup victory over Livingston on Sunday to set up a semi-final meeting with the Pittodrie side at Hampden next month.

A neat jink inside and a probing diagonal pass picked out Daizen Maeda for the first of his hat-trick early in a contest that developed into a more difficult hurdle than anticipated.

IN THE BLACK…Nicolas Kuhn on the ball against Hibs at Easter Road.

The holders eventually overcame the stubborn resistance of David Martindale’s battlers, but the former Bayern Munich and Ajax kid did enough in his 76 minutes to send out some optimistic vibes among his team-mates and observers.

Rodgers said: “In fairness to Nicolas, I think we mentioned it before, for anyone not working with him every day and seeing the difference, when he first came in he was in the midst of his break and I think he said he’d lost seven kilos.

“You can imagine that when you are only slight anyway. To lose over a stone, I think he found that he’d lost his strength and his running capacity.

“Nicolas is just starting to settle in. You see he was a lit more positive, in the first-half, in particular, and he did well.

“I think it was just a bit of cramp at the end. He’s obviously not played as much. He ran his heart out. I’m sure he’s okay. So, it’s been about building him up.

“He feels great now, but he’s still got a bit of work to do.”

The Celtic gaffer, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “I think you saw that much more aggressive approach in his game, in one-versus-ones, taking people on, finding the pass for Daizen’s goal. So, yes, that’s more of what we want to see.

IN THE GREEN…Nicolas Kuhn on the wing against St Mirren in Paisley.

“It’s just adaption. He’ll progress, I’m sure, in his time, but that was very good.

”It’s about the hard work. Confidence is up there, but there has to be a build-up to that. You’ve got to get your preparation right which all these guys are great at – that intensity, that work-rate.

“He’s coming to a country where the intensity and the expectations are huge. It’s about settling into that and then finding your rhythm. Some can do it straight away. With some it takes a little bit of time.

“You saw on Sunday, he was much more aggressive, penetrating much more with his passes and his one-versus-ones.

“He was a real threat for us.”

Kuhn is now standing by for another start when St Johnstone provide the opposition at Parkhead on Saturday afternoon before the international break.

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