Rodgers tells his Hoops to keep calm and carry on

Park­head: Celtic man­ager fo­cused on Hibs af­ter Cham­pi­ons League win

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - SPORT -

Celtic man­ager Brendan Rodgers will leave Cham­pi­ons League last-16 dreams to oth­ers as he deals in re­al­ity.

The Scot­tish cham­pi­ons re­sponded to a 5-0 de­feat by big-spend­ing PSG in their Group B opener with a stun­ning 3-0 win against An­der­lecht in Brus­sels on Wed­nes­day night.

It was only the Hoops’ sec­ond away win in the tour­na­ment and in next month’s dou­ble-header they face Ger­man giants Bay­ern Mu­nich, who sacked Carlo Ancelotti this week af­ter los­ing 3-0 to the French side.

Ahead of the Premier­ship visit of Hiber­nian to­day, the North­ern Ir­ish­man, who will be with­out cap­tain Scott Brown and fel­low mid­fielder Stu­art Arm­strong through in­jury, was keen to keep it all in con­text.

He said: “It is very easy for me, I am al­ways aware of what the re­al­ity is. We were play­ing against an An­der­lecht team which was prob­a­bly dou­ble our bud­get.

“So, it is very easy to look at the re­al­ity of where the likes of Bay­ern Mu­nich and PSG are but it is great Pep Guardi­ola in­sists Ser­gio Aguero has noth­ing to apol­o­gise for af­ter be­ing in­jured in a car crash in Hol­land on his day off.

The Manchester City at­tacker suf­fered a bro­ken rib in a road ac­ci­dent in Am­s­ter­dam on Thurs­day and is ex­pected to be out for be­tween two and four weeks.

Aguero had been in the Dutch cap­i­tal for a con­cert for sup­port­ers and peo­ple to dream. I live in the real world with the play­ers and we only fo­cus on our next game.

“If you go to An­der­lecht and don’t get the re­sult then you are chas­ing in the next two games and then it can all come down to the last game.

“For us it is one win and one loss in what is a re­ally tough group but, ul­ti­mately, the con­fi­dence and be­lief the play­ers have gained from it is huge.”

First comes the in­trigu­ing re­turn of Neil Len­non to Park­head to­day as the Hoops looked to ex­tend their un­beaten do­mes­tic run to 58 matches.

Rodgers has no doubts per­formed by Colom­bian singer Maluma. He was trav­el­ling back to the air­port at around 11pm when, as he posted on Twitter, the taxi he was in “made a wrong turn and crashed against a pole”.

“It was a very heavy slam, but seat­belts pre­vented it from be­ing worse,” he said.

He was treated in hos­pi­tal in Am­s­ter­dam overnight be­fore be­ing as­sessed by City doc­tors on his re­turn to Manchester on Fri­day.

“Hurts, but I’m fine, about Len­non’s qual­i­ties and said: “It is not an easy job to do but to move from play­ing to be­com­ing a man­ager and hav­ing the four years here and the suc­cess he had, was ab­so­lutely mag­nif­i­cent.

“It didn’t work out at Bolton but he came up and you can see how he has rein­vig­o­rated Hibs.

“He is a Premier League man­ager and has the qual­i­ties to man­age there.”

The Hoops struck a blow for Scot­tish foot­ball this week when they beat Cham­pi­ons League ri­vals An­der­lecht 3-0 in Brus­sels.

Hiber­nian de­fender Steven Whit­taker con­cedes it will take a per­fect show­ing from his side if they are to avoid the same fate as the Bel­gian giants.

The Scot­land in­ter­na­tional said: “It will be dif­fi­cult. They have tal­ented play­ers all over the park and we need to try to match them.

“We need to try and frus­trate them when it’s on to frus­trate them, keep the ball when it’s on to keep the ball.

“We need to be at the top of our game and look to take the game to them .” fully fo­cused on re­cov­ery,” he added.

The is­sue has raised ques­tions of why Aguero was al­lowed to travel abroad two days be­fore a big game, but Guardi­ola has no con­cerns.

He said: “I only knew this morn­ing when I woke up. I don’t want to know what my play­ers do.

“If they are fa­thers, they have a full re­spon­si­bil­ity on their shoul­ders on and off the pitch. They know what they have to do.

“He’s strong enough. He trav­elled in a pri­vate jet.

“I am not the po­lice. I don’t know what the sup­port­ers think. Some of them can be up­set, some not, but at the end it’s for­tu­nate the in­jury is not bad.

“He’s healthy, he’s alive. The most im­por­tant thing is he’s okay.”

Asked if the late night was a prob­lem, Guardi­ola said: “We trained at 11am not 8am, so he would have had enough time to rest.”

Aguero is likely to be back in ac­tion within a month and could even re­turn in time for the Premier League match at home to Stoke on Oc­to­ber 14.

He will miss the league lead­ers’ trip to cham­pi­ons Chelsea on Satur­day and will also be un­avail­able for Ar­gentina’s cru­cial up­com­ing World Cup qual­i­fiers against Peru and Ecuador.

How­ever, fears he was in line for an ex­tended lay­off ap­pear to have been un­founded and there is the pos­si­bil­ity the Stam­ford Bridge clash could be the only game he misses for City. In-demand at­tacker Louis Moult feels he owes Mother­well af­ter an un­cer­tain sum­mer at Fir Park.

Moult was reg­u­larly linked with a move away from the club in the sum­mer and is out of con­tract at the end of the sea­son, but that will not stop him from giv­ing his all.

The 25-year-old, who has played for nine clubs in his short ca­reer, has scored 45 goals at Well since join­ing two years ago, and he ad­mits the in­flu­ence of man­ager Stephen Robin­son has had a huge im­pact on his time in Scot­land.

The Well for­ward, whose side hosts Partick This­tle to­day, said: “I have mas­sive re­spect for him, and Ian Bar­r­a­clough at the time – they bought me.

“This foot­ball club took a bit of a gam­ble on me. They don’t pay for many play­ers but they paid for me, so it’s a mas­sive com­pli­ment and I do feel like I need to re­pay this foot­ball club.

“I feel like I’ve been do­ing that and I’ll con­tinue to do that.”

Partick This­tle mid­fielder Ryan Ed­wards is hop­ing to force his way on to the in­ter­na­tional scene with Aus­tralia.

Ed­wards was called up to a 30-man squad in March, but has since failed to make squads for the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup or sub­se­quent World Cup qual­i­fiers.

How­ever the en­er­getic mid­fielder knows he is not too far away, de­spite miss­ing out on the lat­est squad picked by Ange Postecoglou to face Syria in next week’s play-offs.

He said: “I’d love to be in­volved but since last March it hasn’t been the case.

“The mid­field is the strong­est part of the squad, so it’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult but to be hon­est I feel like I’m close and within touch­ing dis­tance.

“I know they’re watch­ing and keep­ing tabs on all the play­ers, in­clud­ing my­self, so it’s just a mat­ter of keep play­ing well and do­ing well and hope­fully my time will come.”

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