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RODGERS EXPLAINS GAME PLAN

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BRENDAN RODGERS will rotate his Celtic first team squad to make sure his players are up for the rigours of the crucial months ahead.

The Hoops boss was happy to give game time to Mikael Lustig, Jonny Hayes, Leigh Griffiths and Mikey Johnston in the 3-1 win over Livingston on Saturday.

The Swedish World Cup right-back, who had five minutes of action as a substitute for Kieran Tierney against Rosenborg in Trondheim in midweek, started along with Aussie international Tom Rogic for the first time.

Jozo Simunovic, banned for the two qualifiers against the Norwegians following his red card against Alashkert in the opening round, was also restored to the central defence alongside Kristoffer Ajer with Jack Hendry dropping onto the bench.

Irish winger Hayes, last summer’s £1.3million signing from Aberdeen, was also in at the start for his first competitive outing this year after sustaining a broken leg against Dundee at Dens Park on Boxing Day.

Leigh Griffiths, still two goals short of his magical ton for the champions, was also on display after overcoming a thigh injury.

Going 3-0 up five minutes after the break also allowed the Hoops gaffer to introduce Mikey Johnston and give half-an-hour to Tierney.

Rodgers said: “That was the idea earlier on in the game, taking Odsonne Edouard off and trying to give Leigh some game time.

“We gave young Mikey Johnston some minutes, as well, while others such as Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic and Tom Rogic got a game.

“There are not 11 players who are going to get us through this period, especially at the beginning of the season.

“So, we’re having to manage the players when we bring them in and take one or two out, without disrupting the fluency of the team.”

 
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