Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers praises ‘outstanding’ Lee McCulloch

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for Kilmarnock's Lee McCulloch. Picture: SNS/Craig Williamson
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for Kilmarnock's Lee McCulloch. Picture: SNS/Craig Williamson
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Brendan Rodgers told Kilmarnock boss Lee McCulloch he has “no need to worry” after Celtic’s 2-0 win at Rugby Park left the hosts pointless after three Ladbrokes Premiership matches.

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The Hoops manager made eight changes for the 5-0 home thrashing of the Ayrshire side in the Betfred Cup earlier in the month and this time he opted for half a dozen as goals from James Forrest and Callum McGregor sealed the win.

McCulloch’s side have lost at home to St Johnstone, Hearts and the Parkhead side in their first three league fixtures, but Rodgers, whose side are unbeaten this season, made a point of praising the former Scotland international afterwards.

He said: “He is an outstanding manager. I know the season hasn’t started well for him in terms of results and unfortunately he has played us twice now.

“But I was really impressed with him when I saw him working as an assistant with Lee Clark, he did very well and I am even more impressed by him since he has become a manager.

“He is very forward thinking, he wants to do the right things, coach the right way and be organised.

“I know how management can work, sometimes you can get a couple of results and it can go against you a wee bit and in your first job you can find yourself under pressure.

“He has no need to worry. He is a fantastic manager who is starting out in the game.

“Okay it was tough in terms of the result today and in the cup with us making changes and what not, but I believe this start will be good for him in the end and he will go on to progress very well.”

Rodgers reshuffled his squad as expected and Stuart Armstrong, who signed a new two-year contract on Friday, fellow midfielder McGregor and teenagers Kristoffer Ajer, Calvin Miller, Anthony Ralston and Kundai Benyu all came into the side.

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Rodgers was pleased with the performance ahead of the trip to Kazakhstan for Tuesday’s Champions League play-off second leg against Astana where the Hoops will surely go through after winning 5-0 in the first leg.

He said: “There were so many positives today. Firstly the performance on always a difficult surface.

“I thought the level of technique and composure on what is always a difficult surface was great

“I am delighted with the result. Another clean sheet, another couple of goals so we are happy and we are delighted with the integration of our young players.”

Asked about the reports that Patrick Roberts is on his way back from Manchester City for another loan spell, the Northern Irishman said: “No update at all.”

He also claimed Nir Bitton should recover from the knock he picked up near the end for the trip to Astana.

He said: “I think he is okay, he said it was the bottom of his foot, it look like his Achilles jarred. He thinks he is fine.”

McCulloch was “humbled” by Rodgers’ backing, but admits he would like to have some points on the board.

He said: “It is very flattering to hear Brendan speak about myself like that.

“I think he knows how hard we are working and what we are trying to do. I have been speaking to him quite a lot.

“It is pleasing to hear, but we do need to start picking up points now.

“I told the boys that in the three games we have played we have done okay in them, but we have no points.

“I would rather not play well and pick up points.

“Yes, very humbling to hear words from a man of that stature, but we will be looking to kick on now.”

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