MAIK NAWROCKI will celebrate his 23rd birthday next month with the wish he has won over Brendan Rodgers.

The German-born former Polish Under-23 international central defender has rarely figured since his £4.3million arrival from Legia Warsaw in the summer, as CQN reported yesterday.

Injury didn’t help his efforts to get game time as Liam Scales emerged as the first-choice partner for the team’s defensive rock Cameron Carter-Vickers.

SLIDE IN TIME…Maik Nawrocki robs St Mirren striker Toyosi Olusanya in the 3-0 win in Paisley.

However, Rodgers, who sanctioned the player’s move to Parkhead, admits he is “a really good player” and there could be the opportunity for more first-team appearances in the second half of the campaign.

The Celtic boss, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Maik has come in, but he’s still young. When a chance comes here at Celtic, you’ve got to take it. It’s such an important position, centre-half.

“We thought Maik would be out until late November with his injury, but he came back early.

“He wasn’t in the Champions League squad because we didn’t think we’d need him. Then he had a few niggles when he got back so that meant he wasn’t able to come in and get minutes.

SHOVE OFF…Maik Nawrocki in action against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in August.

“But you’ve seen what he can do against Rangers and St Mirren in our last two games – and once he gets up to speed he’s a really good player.”

An injury-free Nawrocki may have a crucial role to play with Carter-Vickers jinxed with hamstring problems that saw him come off at half-time of the 3-1 win at Aberdeen on August 13 and miss seven consecutive games before his second-half appearance in the Champions League encounter against Lazio at Parkhead on October 4.

The USA World Cup centre-back also came off in the 55th minute of the 3-0 Boxing Day victory over Dundee at Dens Park and was sidelined for the wins over the Ibrox club in the last game of 2023 and the victory in Paisley to kick off 2024.

It could be that Nawrocki will become a valuable member of Rodgers’ first-team squad this year.


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