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Rodgers hails Armstrong's return to Celtic fold

Celtic 3 Ross County 0

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers welcomed Stuart Armstrong's return to top form in Saturday's 3-0 home win over 10-man Ross County.

The 26-year-old midfielder started for the first time in a Hoops shirt since December 30, having recently recovered from a hernia operation.

Armstrong was back at his energetic best against bottom-side County, who had skipper Andrew Davies sent off in the first half for a senseless tackle on Hoops counterpart Scott Brown.

The former Dundee United player capped a man-of-the-match performance with Celtic's second goal in a comfortable victory, which saw Moussa Dembele open the scoring with a first-half penalty and Tom Rogic adding the third with a classy finish.

Celtic moved 12 points ahead of Rangers and Aberdeen at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership and Rodgers witnessed Armstrong ready to play a big part in the drive for the club's second successive domestic treble. "He has been building his way back into contention," said the Northern Irishman, who described Davies' challenge on Brown as "disgraceful."

"He showed his energy and all the qualities that he has, scored a great goal, worked very hard and played the position very well with good technical discipline in the game.

"He tired a bit in the last 20 minutes but we wanted to get him through 90 to keep pushing him with his game time.

"So I was very pleased with him."

Armstrong said: "It was nice to be back, starting and playing 90 minutes."

As the season moves towards its finale Rodgers was handed another boost as striker Leigh Griffiths replaced Dembele in the second half to make his first appearance since recovering a calf injury which had kept him out since January.

The former Swansea and Liverpool boss said: "We are going into a really exciting part of the season where it is all now about your mental fitness.

"We have the talent. But is now about approaching one game at a time."

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