ANGE POSTECOGLOU admits Liel Abada is well ahead of schedule following his £3.5million arrival in July.
Originally, the incoming Celtic boss had planned to ease the Israeli winger into his first-team plans, but circumstances dictated the youngster was forced to hit the ground running.
And Abada responded with a goal on his debut in the Champions League qualifier against FC Midtjylland, but, unfortunately, had to be withdrawn from the front line just before the interval after his international team-mate Nir Bitton had been foolishly red-carded.
SIGNS ARE GOOD…Liel Abada gets the backing of Celtic in his July debut.
The tricky touchline operator, who celebrated his 20th birthday last month, has added six strikes to his effort in the 1-1 draw against the Danes with the latest being his matchwinning goal in the 3-2 victory over Ferencavros in Budapest on Thursday night to keep qualification hopes alive in Europa League Group G.
Pressure appeared to be telling on Abada a few weeks ago when he lost a bit of his sparkle and boss Postecoglou reasoned: “There’s a great deal of potential in Liel.
“I said a couple of weeks back I felt for him a little bit because we were playing him a lot for a young guy.
“I just felt we needed a bit of a spell to give him a bit of a rest and it has helped him enormously.”
Postecoglou, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “To be honest, when I signed him, I thought he was one we would ease into proceedings with James Forrest out there having experience.
DEBUT DREAM…Liel Abada celebrates his strike against FC Midtjylland in his first appearance.
“But he’s one of those guys we threw in there to sink or swim and most of them have had a decent swim up until now.
“It’s pleasing to see, but you still have to factor in that he’s a young guy and we will take our time with him to let him fulfil his potential.”
The Greek-Australian, with Mikey Johnston coming back from injury to offer options on the flanks, revealed the player’s reaction after being told he would be getting a rest period.
He said: “They understand we are making decisions that are best for them and for the team and he felt himself his performances had dipped a level.
“I felt it was fatigue more than anything else because he plays with such energy that, unless he feels 100 per cent, it affects his game.
“We had an inkling that, if we gave him a couple of games to re-energise, we could get him back in there and he’d be flying again. And he has been.”
END GAME…Ange Postecoglou awaits David Turnbull and Liel Abada at full-time following the 3-1 win over Hibs at Easter Road.
Postecoglou added: “Liel has more to give. He’s learning all of the time. He’s one of those who wants to learn and he does.
“His decision-making, we’re trying to give him some guidance and you saw that with the first goal in Hungary.
“We got the counter-attack and he slowed himself down. He knew Kyogo would be in a good area and he found him.
”I thought the front three were great against Ferencvaros, it’s great they get goals as that is what they love to do, but their ability to link has been excellent.
MATCHWINNER…Liel Abada sweeps in the third goal beyond Ferencvaros keeper Adam Bogdan.
“Jota, Liel and Kyogo coming here, their stocks have risen and that is because of the platform we give them.
“It’s too easy to focus on the front three. The type of football we play from the back, we play it so we are not going long to them.
“They are all the size of jockeys, so we play our balls through midfield to give them that platform.
“They appreciate that and they have to invest in that by working hard defensively and that they do. They get their rewards.”
The terrific threesome are likely to get the nod to display their flashing skills against Dundee at Dens Park tomorrow afternoon in the midday kick-off.