Scott Brown, Kieran Tierney, Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest and Dedryck Boyata were all left out from the side that sealed the title with Sunday’s 5-0 win at Hearts and Rodgers admitted he rejigged the team with the Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers on 23 April in mind.
The one must-win game his treble-chasing side have in their sights, the surprise nature of last night’s encounter extended to Rodgers witnessing man-in-form Scott Sinclair, who bagged his 22nd goal of the season last night, missing a penalty for the first time since their Swansea days together six years ago.
“After the weekend our next peak is the semi-final. So that’s what we are building towards,” said Rodgers, whose team recasting meant a full debut for Eboue Kouassi.
“This is why I needed to make the changes tonight. If I made them against Kilmarnock, then we are building into the Ross County game and then the Rangers games.
“It might mean some players who are asked to play in the Rangers game, if they played tonight then were rested against Kilmarnock they would maybe have got one game in 18 days. You’re always trying to gauge the momentum of your team and I thought this was the game to make the changes. But, over the course of the next couple of games, the team will be pretty stable to give us that momentum to hopefully arrive in a peak condition for the semi-final.”
Thistle moved a major step closer to the top six with their first positive result at Celtic Park since 1994. Manager Alan Archibald said: “We aren’t in the top six yet but it’s in our own hands and we’ve got a good game at home, a tough game against Motherwell on Saturday. We’ve got a good squad to pick from.
“[Goalscorer] Ade works ever so hard and I’m glad he got his reward in the big stage because he’s been outstanding in terms of the way he’s played for us and he’s got us up the pitch.”