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Kennedy toasts strength of squad as Celts ring changes

Clyde 0 Celtic 3

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Precision finish: Olivier Ntcham rattles in Celtic’s opening goal

Precision finish: Olivier Ntcham rattles in Celtic’s opening goal

PA

Precision finish: Olivier Ntcham rattles in Celtic’s opening goal

Assistant boss John Kennedy believes Celtic's comfortable 3-0 William Hill Scottish Cup win at Clyde demonstrated the strength of the Hoops squad.

Manager Neil Lennon made six changes, including a first start for Polish striker Patryk Klimala and the return of Scott Bain in goal, with Mohamed Elyounoussi, Moritz Bauer, Boli Bolingoli and Ryan Christie back in the side and new signing Ismaili Soro on the bench.

Star players like Fraser Forster, Callum McGregor and Odsonne Edouard were rested but not missed as goals from French midfielder Olivier Ntcham, skipper Scott Brown and substitute Vakoun Bayo helped brush aside the League One side and set up a quarter-final tie against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

Kennedy said: "We were looking back at Partick Thistle in the League Cup at home and made eight changes and won 5-0.

"We made six changes today and, again, we put on a convincing performance.

"But that's what it's all about. We need to utilise the squad.

"We have a strong squad and plenty of players who train hard every day and wait for an opportunity and games like that provide that opportunity.

"It was good to get through the game and a lot of players who needed minutes got them.

"It gave us a chance to rest a few, so it was a good balance and a professional performance.

"We have a really busy schedule with the European games and midweek matches and, with it being Clyde and the squad we have got, you have to trust players who have been waiting patiently."

It was Celtic's 33rd domestic cup tie win in succession and Kennedy insists that is testament the qualities of a team which have won the last 10 trophies in Scotland and are aiming for an unprecedented fourth successive Scottish Cup triumph.

The former Celtic defender said: "It is terrific in terms of the professionalism of the players and how they approach every game.

"Cup ties are dangerous, there might be a sending-off or a goal that goes against you or a bad day that puts you out a cup, but the boys keep churning them out, showing great quality and professionalism, and the mentality of the group is really strong. Long may that continue."

Asked about the cup draw, Kennedy said: "At this stage it is always going to be tough.

"St Johnstone has been a good place for us in terms of scoring goals up there and performance levels have been good of late, so again we know it will be tough but we will come round to that when it comes and we make sure we deal with Hearts on Wednesday and look forward from there."

Clyde boss Danny Lennon is hoping the experience can be beneficial when his side return to league duty.

He said: "For long periods in the second half the shape was great and we limited them to very few opportunities. But the way the third goal came took a little shine off it for me."

CLYDE: Mitchell, Howie, Livingston, Lang, Rumsby, Grant, Cuddihy (Johnston, 86 mins), McStay (Cunningham, 69 mins), Goodwillie, Rankin, Lamont (Love, 79 mins). Unused subs: McGhee, McNiff, Johnston, Wylde, Smith.

CELTIC: Bain, Bauer, Jullien, Ajer, Bolingoli, Brown, Ntcham, Christie, Forrest (Hayes, 71 mins), Klimala (Bayo, 76 mins), Elyounoussi (Shved, 86 mins). Unused subs: Forster, Taylor, Griffiths, Soro

Referee: Bobby Madden

Man of the match: Olivier Ntcham

Match rating: 6/10

 

Quarter-final draw

Hearts v Rangers

Hibernian v Inverness CT

St Johnstone v Celtic

St Mirren/ Motherwell v Aberdeen/ Kilmarnock

(Ties to be played Feb 29/ March 1)

Belfast Telegraph