Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football Scottish Celtic

Celtic v Man City: Brendan Rodgers relishes Sterling reunion but knows Hoops face a huge task

By Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers is under no illusions as to the task his Celtic side face when Manchester City visit Parkhead this evening.

The Hoops were thrashed 7-0 by Barcelona in their Champions League Group C opener in the Nou Camp, and match day two brings Pep Guardiola's in-form side, who have won their first 10 games in all competitions this season.

Rodgers, who confirmed that Craig Gordon would take over in goal from Dorus de Vries who is still not 100 per cent after having to go off at half-time in the 6-1 win over Kilmarnock at the weekend, is excited about taking on the Premier League leaders.

However, he knows his players will need to work hard to reduce the disparity between the two sides.

"It is really exciting," said the former Swansea and Liverpool boss. "But Man City are a top team, they have that world-class ability, great individuals who are working hard.

"We know we have to bring our 'A' game to have any chance and that is something we can hopefully do. The reality is if they bring their 'A' game and we bring ours, they win. But we know we have to make it as uncomfortable as we can for them.

"We have respect for their qualities, but we have to ensure we are super-committed and we know we have players that can give them a problem.

"I have watched them in the last four or five seasons and they have had an outstanding group of players, winning leagues and cups. But the level has gone up since Pep has come in.

"The intensity has gone up and they are a team working with one idea and they are a hard team to contain. We know it is going to be a difficult night but it is going to be a difficult night for them."

Rodgers is hoping Raheem Sterling, who has rediscovered his form since Guardiola arrived, has an off night.

The Ulsterman gave the winger his debut at Liverpool at the age of 17 and Sterling went on to move to City in 2015 for a deal reportedly worth £49million.

"I have been so proud to watch him this season at the level he has been at," said Rodgers. "I am absolutely delighted for him.

"He was a great boy to work with. I think he has grown from that 17-year-old, not only as a player but as a person over three seasons. It was difficult the first season he left, it always is when you have so much expectation.

"But he has shown that with a focus, a way of working and a way of playing, he is a top-class player. I am looking forward to seeing him - hopefully he doesn't play so well."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph