As reported by The Scotsman, Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he would have ‘no hesitation’ playing teenager Kristoffer Ajer in next week’s derby against Rangers.
The New Year derby between Celtic and Rangers is a tradition in Scottish football that always captures the imagination over the festive period and next Saturday will be no different.
With the Hoops opening the gap over their city rivals to 11 points this weekend, a win would put them out of touch and leave the Light Blues soul searching again heading into 2018.
Celtic Park is set to produce a red hot atmosphere, the kind usually reserved for more experienced players. However, Rodgers believes that one of his young charges is ready to experience what the fixture is all about, after being asked whether Kristoffer Ajer could feature.
As quoted by The Scotsman, the Hoops boss said:
I would have no hesitation. He has all the qualities – it is just about getting him the experience. I thought he was brilliant. I said afterwards in the changing room to all the players, this is a boy that when I came in last year was 18, 6ft 5in but just needed some men’s football. We sent him to Kilmarnock and he was taught very well by Lee McCulloch and Lee Clark, and when he came in the summer he was a man.
Ajer has started just nine Celtic matches but has impressed supporters with four starts in December that could see him become a first-choice pick in the centre-back position going forward.
Ajer has brought a calmness and stability to the Celtic defence in recent weeks that highlights he plays with a maturity well beyond his tender age. Still just 19-years-old, if he continues his current trajectory he could be a defensive star for years to come.
He’s had to remain patient for regular opportunities but with Jozo Simunovic in poor form, he’s ready to show that he should be partnering new signing Marvin Compper going forward.
Celtic careers are often defined by performances in the derby with Rangers, so if he does start next week, it’ll be a true test of the progress he has made since coming into the side.
Boxing Day is a truly wonderful time: the sales start, the nightmare of an extended period of confinement with your family is all but over, and there’s a full flight of Premier League fixtures to look forward to. If you’re thinking of having a punt on the day after Christmas, be sure to check out the LeoVegas coupons we’ve picked out first. Let us know what you think of our selections—and have yourself a lovely Christmas!