'We all want to play but we understand' - how Celtic players are reacting to Ange Postecoglou's squad rotation
Rotation has been a key feature of Ange Postecoglou's team selection in recent weeks, with the Australian opting to chop and change his starting line-up from one game to the next, regardless of the previous result. As was evidenced at Motherwell on Wednesday night where five changes were made from the side that thrashed Hibs 6-1 at Parkhead on Saturday. The outcome? Another commanding performance as Celtic ran out 4-0 winners to reach the Premier Sports Cup semi-finals.
Postecoglou will feel constant changes are necessary due to his demanding, non-stop attacking style, combined with playing three matches a week while competing across domestic and European competition. Such tinkering requires buy-in from players given that there can be nothing more deflating as a footballer than when you perform well one week, only to be left out of the following match. James Forrest, a hat-trick hero at the weekend, did not even get off the bench at Fir Park.
Having been a virtual ever-present until recently, Greg Taylor got a taste of it having been dropped for £4.5million summer signing Alexandro Bernabei at the weekend before returning for the midweek cup win. The left-back insists, however, that Celtic players are comfortable with the situation.
"Yes, we’ve got a squad for that reason. Every player naturally wants to play in every game but that’s not possible – unless you are Callum McGregor!" he said. “We all want to play but equally we understand that there has to be rotation from time to time.
"When the manager puts the board up before the game, you are just keen and hoping that your name is on it. Whoever is playing in whatever position, you just back he team that the gaffer selects because we know if we all have that attitude and work hard for each other then we’ll all reap the rewards and get the success together.
"Everyone is hungry to play. When you get an opportunity, most boys at the moment are taking it.
‘We know it’s an intense period. I think we’ve got another seven games to go now so there’s going to be plenty of rotation and opportunities for boys to play.”
"We’re all training to such a high standard. So whenever, whether it’s Berna or whoever plays in any position, you know they are going to take their opportunity and Berna has done that when he’s come in. He’s eager to learn as we all are. Whoever the manager selects for any game, they are going to give a top level performance."
Squad rotation also carries risks. Celtic's only domestic defeat in the past year came in the form of a 2-0 loss at St Mirren last month after six changes were made to the team that drew 1-1 away to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League four days earlier.
"St Mirren was a disappointing result and performance but outwith that I think the performance have been there, by and large," Taylor insisted. "The results maybe haven’t maybe because we haven’t taken chances here and there. The manager has stressed that he will be the first to tell us if he felt the performance levels were dipping and in his eyes they weren’t."
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