Brendan Rodgers hails Celtic squad after first win as Hoops manager

first_img1 Brendan Rodgers says his Celtic side have ticked all the boxes so far during their pre-season workout.The Hoops registered their first win under the Northern Irishman on Sunday when Ryan Christie netted the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Austrians Sturm Graz.That result came three days after his first match in charge of the Scottish champions ended in a 2-2 draw against NK Celje in Slovenia and Rodgers is pleased with the work put in so far.The former Liverpool boss told Celtic TV: “I felt it was a great exercise for us. This was Sturm Graz’s sixth and final game of pre-season before they start the league, and for us playing our second game, I felt we were very good.“Most of the objectives were achieved from the game in terms of our fitness and football. The cohesion within the team is different at the moment, because I am picking different teams, but the first half was very good – we had good speed in the game, scored the goal and could have had two or three more and didn’t concede.“The second half was a little bit more broken, but there was still a good mentality in the players and it was another step up in their fitness levels.“We set some targets before the game and for me the players achieved them all. We are only a week-and-a-half in and I was really pleased with the first half and that pressing element, that hunger to get the ball back was good.“We have worked on getting the ball back within four passes when the opponent scores or we score, and we did that and should have been 2-0 up straight away. So there are many pleasing aspects and the team, cohesively, is coming together day by day.“It’s been great out here. We have a good chance to work together on the field and to reinforce our principles off the field so I’m really happy with how it’s going.”Scott Brown also made a surprise second-half substitute appearance as he returned earlier from hamstring trouble earlier than expected.But his involvement has encouraged Rodgers, especially with the Hoops’ opening Champions League qualifier just over a week away.The manager said: “Scott’s obviously a way off in terms of his fitness but he’s very determined and he’s a wonderful captain. He’s a good guy to have around and he’s worked very hard so it was just about introducing him back into it.”Rodgers also confirmed new signing Moussa Dembele will get his first taste of action for Celtic during Wednesday’s friendly encounter with Olimpija Ljubljana.“He will feature on Wednesday night,” said the manager. “He’s only just with us and you need to give them seven to 10 days before you get them on the field or else you have a high risk of injury so he’s a guy that will come in and play some part on Wednesday.” Brendan Rodgers last_img read more

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