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RODGERS BACKS HIS PLAYERS TO RESPOND

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BRENDAN RODGERS insists his players have the strength of conviction to deliver the perfect response against Hearts tomorrow after Thursday’s disappointment in Leipzig.

The Celtic boss praised his squad for their ability to provide the answers when doubters are questionishing their ability.

RB Leipzig beat Rodgers’ men 2-0 to dish out their second consecutive Europa League Group B setback after their 3-1 loss to RB Salzburg.

It was hardly ideal preparation for the Betfred League Cup semi-final against Craig Levein’s side at Murrayfield, but the Hoops gaffer said: “If there’s one thing about this group’s mentality which you can never question it’s how they respond to setbacks.

“If you look at my time here, we lost at home to Borussia Monchengladbach in my first season and didn’t play so well. But then we were outstanding against Rangers in the League Cup semi-final the following weekend and went through.

“Then we lost at home to Barcelona immediately before we played Aberdeen in the Final and produced one of the best performances since I came at Hampden.

“Last year we didn’t play well away to Bayern Munich and had a really tough semi-final against Hibs, which we won 4-2.

“Before last year’s Final, we lost 7-1 away to Paris St Germain, but we bounced back to play well and beat Motherwell on the Sunday, so I have no doubts about the mentality of the team.

“I would expect us to respond and play well this weekend. There were many aspects of our performance in Leipzig I was unhappy with, but I never get frustrated with the players.

“There are elements that can disappoint, of course, but I am also of the understanding that we were playing against a really high level of opposition and in parts of the game we showed up very well.

“But it is key moments of the game at that level where you have to be better.

“Of course, I was disappointed at times, but I have got to where I have through experience.

“I left school with no qualifications and my life is based around experience and moving on and trying to get as many good experiences as I can. I never over-analyse it, but look forward.

“That is what I have always tried to do with these guys here. We talk about it briefly after the game, put it to bed and then look towards Hearts.

“Rather than slaughtering players and making them feel less than what they are.

“The beauty for me is that I know that these boys give me everything and sometimes they come up short. That is okay. We will go again and fight for the next game.”

 
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