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Brendan Rodgers tips 'top-class' Boyata to win back Celtic support

 

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised Dedryck Boyata for coping with the negative reaction from Celtic fans to score their winner in a 1-0 home victory over Hamilton.

The Belgium defender returned to the side for the Premiership encounter at Parkhead after his controversial decision not play in the Hoops' Champions League exit against AEK Athens in Greece - he claimed to be injured while Rodgers disagreed.

The 27-year-old came out before the game to see a banner which said, 'Boyata - not fit to wear the jersey' and there was a mixed reception to his early touches.

However, all the bad feeling evaporated in the 63rd minute when he tapped in from close range to clinch the points.

Rodgers said: "Obviously I would have preferred a different reaction but I am not going to criticise the supporters.

"I will give credit to Dedryck and how he coped with it and you saw the (positive) reaction from probably three quarters of the ground."

Rodgers added: "When you are trying to redeem yourself sometimes it takes a bit of time.

"Naturally supporters, the real passionate supporters, look for that commitment in the player, it is not always about ability. The reaction of three quarters of the stadium plus his team-mates, you see we are all together.

"It wouldn't have been easy for him. I think he did all his talking on the pitch. I thought he was top-class."

Rodgers described Boyata as a "£10million/£15million-rated World Cup centre-half" and is planning on him still being a Celtic player after the transfer window closes.

However, the Northern Irishman is still on the look-out for another centre-back, with the Hoops linked with Le Havre's France Under-20 player Harold Moukoudi.

"I'm not thinking anything other than Dedryck being here," said Rodgers.

"He cruised the game today because he is a top-class player. We are not a squad who can do without that quality."

Skipper Scott Brown said the whole Celtic team celebrating with Boyata after his goal showed unity.

He said: "We are all together, we are all behind him, he wants to play. He was outstanding today, showed his qualities and got his goal.

"It has been a hard week for him but a fantastic end.

"It's in the past and will stay in the past."

Hamilton boss Martin Canning was not too downhearted after a tough 90 minutes.

He said: "We can take positives. You know there will be large spells here when you don't have the ball. I was pleased with the application and effort but disappointed with the result."

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