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Benyu gives Rodgers another option to consider

 

By Gavin McCafferty

Kundai Benyu aims to convince Brendan Rodgers he can quickly become a Celtic regular.

The 19-year-old has already changed his manager's mind after his performances in training and against Lyon on Saturday led Rodgers to ditch plans to send the midfielder out on loan.

Benyu arrived from Ipswich this summer after a loan spell at Aldershot last season and he is determined to make an instant impact.

Benyu said: "I wasn't sure if I was going to go out on loan but I have come here and worked as hard as I can so I'm happy to stay and fight for my place.

"I would much rather be settled in Glasgow with the boys playing week in, week out. Given time and me working hard in training, listening to the gaffer's advice, I think I will be able to get in the team as much as I can.

"I think I am ready to step in now if the gaffer calls upon me but the main objective is to keep working hard in training every day.

"I love everything here. The atmosphere (against Lyon), even though it wasn't full, was great and the fans and players have all been welcoming, while there are great facilities at the club."

He added: "There were other (English) Premier League, Championship and League One clubs interested but when I heard Celtic were interested, I said yeah. It's a very big step but this is what I want to try and do in my career."

Celtic suffered a 4-0 home defeat by Lyon after resting all the players who started in their Champions League win over Linfield less than 24 hours earlier.

The game was scoreless at half-time and three goals came in the final half hour when Rodgers introduced a number of young players such as Sam Wardrop, Kerr McInroy, Calvin Miller, Jack Aitchison and Regan Hendry.

Benyu played for the first 70 minutes and gave Rodgers plenty to think about.

"He has surprised me to be honest," Rodgers said.

"Obviously he's a young player and we will just see how he develops.

"Initially the plan was to have him in, thinking he could come in and get an idea of how we work and then go on loan. But I have changed my mind with him over this period of time, just watching him.

"It's going to be good for him to come in and have six months with us initially to see how we work and train, and get an education in our football idea and then we'll review it again in January and see how he is at. He is certainly a boy who can contribute for us and he has done very well."

Rodgers added: "You see what we are trying to build here in players who are technically gifted but they have to have good mobility and physicality, and he has that.

"He has come in and played with a nice little edge. He's competitive and he has confidence.

"How he receives the ball is very good. He's an attacking player who wants to get goals and he's quite exciting. I thought he was very good for a 19-year-old coming into this environment and, looking at him at close-hand, he has done very well."

Reflecting on the match, Rodgers said: "Up to the first hour, it was a real good game. Obviously when the Linfield game was rearranged, you could look at it and very easily not play the game, but I have a responsibility to try and get as many of my players as fit as they can for the beginning of the season and throughout the season. For that, it was a great exercise.

"The senior players like Nir (Bitton), Callum McGregor, Olivier, Moussa, Jonny Hayes and all these boys got good game time, and young Beni did really well."

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