DANIEL KELLY is standing by for his first Celtic start in the Scottish Cup quarter-final tie against Livingston at Parkhead tomorrow afternoon.

The 18-year-old midfielder has had a meteoric rise at the champions since coming on as a late substitute in the 5-0 romp against Buckie Thistle in the previous round in January.

The powerhouse scored his first goal for the club when he swept in the final strike in the 7-1 triumph over Dundee after replacing Callum McGregor at the interval.

Kelly was pitched in for the toiling Tomoki Iwata late in the 2-0 loss to Hearts at Tynecastle last weekend and Brendan Rodgers could now unleash the East Kilbride teen against David Martindale’s Premiership strugglers in the 2.30pm kick-off.

THAT’S OUR BHOY…Daniel Kelly is congratulated by Matt O’Riley and Daizen Maeda after scoring his first Celtic goal in the 7-1 rout of Dundee.

The Hoops boss will be without inspirational skipper McGregor again for the Cup encounter as the holders bid for a place in Monday night’s semi-final draw.

On-loan Benfica playmaker Paulo Bernardo replaced the captain in Edinburgh, but was hooked at the interval with the visitors trailing to Jorge Grant’s controversial penalty-kick and a change of tactics necessitating the introduction of Kyogo Furuhashi.

Kelly then got the nod to take over from the tiring Iwata in the 78th minute as three points slipped away from the champions.

Interestingly, the manager overlooked £2million summer recruit Odin Holm to put on the teen ace.

Now Rodgers must puzzle if the time is right to play Kelly from the start against Livi, a team who made life difficult for the hosts during a 2-0 win in December.

If the youngster starts it will inevitably mean a place among the stand-by squad for Iwata with Rodgers going for the more positive outlook of Bernardo and Matt O’Riley in the other two midfield berths.

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT…Daniel Kelly joins team-mates Cameron Carter-Vickers and Alistair Johnston in acknowledging the Celtic support after the frustrating afternoon at Tynecastle.

As the Hoops team chief pondered his starting eleven, he delivered a progress report on McGregor when he admitted: “It’s his Achilles connecting with his calf.

“He played on with it a little bit in the Motherwell game and then played with it in the Dundee game.

“In the first-half, he felt it and we wanted to take him off to protect him. It’s something we want to be sure of because the last thing you want is for the Achilles to go. Because if it does, you are out for a long time.

“So, we have to monitor it and then see where he’s at after the international break.”

Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “I don’t believe there is the prospect surgery will be required.

“Normally, when they go for these scans, you will see if there is a tear, but there’s nothing like that at all.

“So, we just have to look at resting it.”

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