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Hoops coach Kennedy backs Tierney to hit greater heights


By Andy Newport

Celtic coach John Kennedy believes Kieran Tierney has already established himself as one of Britain's top full-backs - and reckons he will only get better.

The 20-year-old wrote his name into the Hoops' history books on Tuesday when he became the second youngest player to skipper the Parkhead side since the war.

And he underlined his burgeoning potential with a 40-yard goal of the season contender as Betfred Cup opponents Kilmarnock were beaten.

That has only ratcheted up the superlatives being used to describe the Scotland international.

And Kennedy was happy to back Jim Duffy after the Morton boss suggested Tierney can rightfully claim a place alongside any of the multi-million pound stars in the Premier League.

"Kieran still has improvement in him and he realises that," said the Hoops' first-team coach. "He is playing to a high level domestically and at international level.

"But there is still more growth in him. Physically he will fill out more, technically he will get better and, as he plays more games, tactically he will become more aware. However, he is certainly up there with the top left-backs in the country.

"I'm not surprised by the performances Kieran has put in. It was a great honour for him to get the captaincy in the absence of Scott Brown.

"I've known Kieran for a long time but I'm not surprised by the accolades he gets or the performances he puts in because I see what he does every day.

"He wants to do well here because he's a Celtic boy. But how he conducts himself off the pitch, how he trains every day reflects on the pitch. He's a great example for young players to look at."

The good news for Brendan Rodgers is that there seems to be plenty of Tierney's former academy classmates happy to resist temptations and follow his lead.

He threw five teenagers into his line-up for the last-16 showdown with Killie, but there was little to suggest it was a gamble.

The Celtic boss is likely to restore the majority of his established figures for tonight's Premiership trip to Partick Thistle, but Kennedy will not be surprised to see the odd fresh-faced recruit keep his place.

"It's good to see," said Kennedy. "The manager has always stated he wants to win games and trophies - but we also want to develop our own players too.

"We had a very young team but the performance level was still high and that is the trust the manager now has in the squad."

Kennedy says the guiding hand of Rodgers was key to that stunning first-team introduction.

"This is the skill of the manager. He settles the players down and makes their role very clear. He also trusts them and puts belief into them," he said.

"You saw that with Anthony Ralston at full-back. He played like a 25-year-old who has 300 games under his belt."

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