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Rodgers takes the positives from new blood as Kilmarnock boss Clarke does a job on Celtic

Celtic 0 Kilmarnock 0


New talent: Ewan Henderson on his debut for Celtic

New talent: Ewan Henderson on his debut for Celtic

New talent: Ewan Henderson on his debut for Celtic

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers was not surprised to be frustrated by Kilmarnock in their goalless draw at Parkhead.

Steve Clarke's side had lost their three post-split games and were determined to leave Glasgow with at least a point.

The much-changed home team struggled against resolute Killie in a rather lifeless first half and were unable to convert the few real opportunities they were restricted to after the break.

Rodgers said: "Steve has done a very good job.

"Maybe in the last few games they have tried to open up a bit and obviously conceded so coming here and how we have been playing and scoring, he probably wasn't going to do that.

"So they were compact and tight and if you can make the breakthrough early in the games it gives you a better opportunity but we didn't quite do that.

"So it was a typical 0-0 game."

With one eye on the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Motherwell after the final league game against Aberdeen on Sunday, Rodgers refused to risk Moussa Dembele, the only fit striker, leaving winger Patrick Roberts to start as the main striker.

He said: "There is no doubt if I had the players available and fit I would have played a different system, against that low block.

"But it was too big a risk. Moussa is my only fit striker and he is coming back from injury.

"He played great at the weekend (in the 3-1 win over Hearts) but I didn't want to risk him. He will feature again at the week-end against Aberdeen.

"Tonight was about giving players the opportunity, those that have been on the side, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Jozo Simunovic, guys who haven't had a lot of game time, young Calvin Miller coming in to get more experience, young Ewan (Henderson) coming on to the game (to make debut). He is a talent. So it was really positive from that aspect."

Clarke had drawn with and beaten Celtic since taking over the Rugby Park club in October and welcomed another point against the Hoops.

He said: "It was a controlled, disciplined performance and we restricted Celtic to very few chances. Jamie MacDonald had one really decent save second half with his foot, apart from that, pretty comfortable defensively.

"As a coach you are never happy. I thought we could have done a little bit more with the ball.

"We broke up play quite a lot and didn't really use the ball well enough going forward, didn't really look like a goal threat which is disappointing because we normally do."

Belfast Telegraph