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Rodgers delighted with Celtic young guns stepping up to the mark

Celtic 3 Dundee 0

Finisher: Brendan Rodgers congratulates Mikey Johnston
Finisher: Brendan Rodgers congratulates Mikey Johnston

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers spoke of the "great joy" he gets seeing young players break through after two academy graduates excelled in Saturday's 3-0 home win over Dundee at Parkhead.

With centre forward Odsonne Edouard out injured, 19-year-old winger Mikey Johnston deputised and scored a brace, a drive and a header, before defender Filip Benkovic added a third in a one-side affair.

It was Johnston's second league start of the season after coming off the bench to score in the 3-0 win against Motherwell in midweek where right-back Anthony Ralston, who returned to the club after a loan spell with Dundee United last season, scored in his first start of the campaign.

Ralston, 20, struck the post against the Dens Park side as the league leaders turned in a performance that left Rodgers more than satisfied and paying tribute to the club's youth system.

The Northern Irishman said: "It is great to see that growth with young players.

"That's why sometimes I never get too down with injuries because it always opens the door for someone else.

"If it is young players, that is part of the vision here.

"We want to win titles, we want to play an aggressive, attacking way of football, we want to win and we want to do it with as many of the young players from the academy base.

"We have some regulars (from the academy) in the team for a number of years and now you can see these guys coming through as well.

"If they are not starting they will certainly be covering and working their way into becoming starters, I'm sure.

"So it gives you great joy when you see that development, both technically and tactically.

"Hopefully there will be more of the younger boys to come in the coming years."

Kieran Tierney missed out again with a hip injury but Rodgers is confident that the left-back will be fit for the trip to Aberdeen on Boxing Day and the Old Firm game against Rangers at Ibrox on December 29.

Rodgers is also hoping that Edouard (abductor), Mikael Lustig (concussion) and Dedryck Boyata (hamstring) are back for the Pittodrie game.

"That is the plan," said the former Liverpool boss.

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