Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is preparing to turn to his big-game players, including Scott Brown, for the champions’ demanding away double-header prior to the winter break.
Celtic travel to face two of their nearest title challengers in the coming days. They are at Aberdeen on Boxing Day and then tackle Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday.
Brown, Dedryck Boyata, Odsonne Edouard and Kieran Tierney are all likely to step back in for the crucial trips after missing recent games, while Mikael Lustig is in line to reclaim the right-back spot from Anthony Ralston after overcoming concussion. Brown was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Dundee but often excels at Pittodrie and Ibrox.
“They automatically come into the squad [for Aberdeen],” said Rodgers. “You can’t doubt them in terms of what they have done for me over the last two-and-a-half years.
“They have been getting better and you can’t doubt their mentality. OK sometimes we’ll lose games.
“We had 29 games at home in a year and have won 24, drawn three and lost to Aberdeen on the last day when we were waiting for the trophy and against a very good Salzburg side.
“It shows you consistently where these boys are at. There’s no doubt they will turn up.”
Rodgers also backed Tom Rogic to put on a show at Pittodrie before heading to the Middle East to join up with the Australia squad for the Asia Cup.
“He’ll be away after the Aberdeen game which is a shame because he wanted to play at Rangers,” he said.
Edouard, meanwhile, is likely to return for the Aberdeen match after an abductor strain despite Mikey Johnston’s two-goal display when playing as a central striker in the win over Dundee. “We just shut him [Edouard] down for a few days,” said Rodgers, who is hopeful the other scorer on Saturday, on loan centre-half Filip Benkovic, will remain at Celtic for the rest of the season. Leicester City manager Claude Puel is set to look at the defender’s situation in the coming days.
“They are within their rights to assess it but let’s hope he stays,” said Rodgers. “He’s been superb for us.”