Brendan Rodgers leaps to defence of Celtic player 'who suffered from Callum McGregor syndrome'

Taylor can get it in neck from fans but manager is well aware of his credentials

Celtic’s need to sign a left-back has become a mantra for the club’s support.

The faithful may be comforted that Brendan Rodgers sees the requirement for such an acquisition – and less so over the driver for doing so. Greg Taylor has appeared to have a target on his back from the fanbase throughout his four-and-a-half years since his £3million move from Kilmarnock. In contrast, the Celtic manager goes out of his way to offer the most effusive pat on the back to the 26-year-old for what he has produced across the first six months of his second spell, even as he points to challenges for the player at Champions League level.

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Taylor’s dependency and consistency is reflected in the fact he has started every one of the club’s 29 games this season, although there is some mitigation with Rodgers patently concluding that Alexandro Bernabei does not fit the bill of a reliable deputy. “I’ve got to say, Greg Taylor has been brilliant for me,” said Rodgers ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Cup clash against Buckie Thistle. “Clearly there is a loading issue there we need to be mindful of if we don’t bring in support there. I know I’ve got Scalesy [Liam Scales] who can play there, in a worst case scenario. But Greg has been great for me. Like some of the players, he probably took some time to adapt to what we’ve been asking them to do. But now with everyone in sync, you can see how much he’s improved from a defensive perspective and the football side of his game is very good. I really, really like him. Being at a big club is about competition and it’s my job to make the squad as good as it can be.”

Celtic's Greg Taylor has featured in every match this season.Celtic's Greg Taylor has featured in every match this season.
Celtic's Greg Taylor has featured in every match this season.

It was put to Rodgers that the limited appreciation for Taylor from the Celtic stands could be labelled as ‘the James Forrest syndrome’ – a development where indigenous players, such as the pair, tend to be subjected to unwarranted scrutiny and stick because of their ordinariness set against the seductiveness of foreign imports. He pushed that further. “It is a bit like that, probably like the Callum McGregor syndrome up until a couple of years ago,” continued the Celtic manager. “It’s just the nature of it sometimes, the Scottish boys might not get the same level of affinity as some of the others. When I was last here I saw Greg as a young player at Kilmarnock. We had Kieran [Tierney] here, who was brilliant for me. But I went away and I watched him over these last few years. He’s done great. I love working with him. I see him every day, he’s a top professional who looks after himself.

“I remember seeing him in Dubai during one of the breaks a few years back, when I was at Leicester. I bumped into him in the gym and we said hello. But I watched him and from the minute he started working … he never lost focus on what he needed to do. I remember coming away from that and thinking this was a young professional who is doing everything he can to look after himself and do things right.

“That’s what I’ve seen since coming back here. He’s a great guy who doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He’s been brilliant. The Champions League is a challenge for a lot of players, [but] I really enjoy working with him. You always need these personalities. Greg is a real voice on the pitch. He’s very respectful of everything and you need players with that spirit and mentality. [It’s just] my job is to bring competition to the squad in a number of areas.”