Arm­strong glad to kick off resur­gence in Rodgers’ high-en­ergy style

The Herald - Herald Sport - - LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP - MATTHEW LIND­SAY

BREN­DAN RODGERS has suc­cess­fully res­ur­rected the ca­reer of James For­rest, a player who had badly lost his way and was set to de­part Park­head, since tak­ing over as Celtic man­ager in the sum­mer. Can he now do the same with Stu­art Arm­strong?

The mid­fielder started well at Celtic after sign­ing from Dundee United in Jan­uary last year. He played and scored in the Europa League last 32 matches against In­ter Mi­lan.

After that, though, he re­gressed. The 24-year-old dropped out of the first team and on the rare oc­ca­sions that he did fea­ture, of­ten out of po­si­tion, he failed to con­vince.

Arm­strong hasn’t been a reg­u­lar starter un­der Rodgers this sea­son, but when he has played, as was cer­tainly the case in the 4-0- win over Ross County at the Global En­ergy Arena on Wed­nes­day night, he has looked far more like his for­mer self.

The In­ver­ness-born player capped an as­sured in­di­vid­ual dis­play in Ding­wall with a goal six min­utes from time that se­cured a hard-fought vic­tory and sent Celtic seven points clear at the top.

Many Celtic sup­port­ers would like to see the Scot given an ex­tended run along­side cap­tain Scott Brown ahead of Nir Bit­ton, whose form has of­ten left much to be de­sired in re­cent weeks.

He cer­tainly be­lieves he has em­braced the high-press­ing game which Rodgers wants his team to play and is hope­ful he has done enough to get the nod for the league meet­ing with sec­ond-placed Aberdeen at Pit­to­drie to­mor­row.

“I am en­joy­ing it,” said Arm­strong. “I had a good chat with the man­ager at the start of the sea­son and he told me what he ex­pected. I’ve been train­ing hard to do that.

“He wants to play the high press, he wants a lot of en­ergy and I’m try­ing to do that.

“I wanted to play well against County and in­flu­ence the game in an at­tack­ing and de­fen­sive sense. Hope­fully I did that and can play my part against Aberdeen at the week­end. It’s im­por­tant for me when I get the chance to im­press that I help the team in any way I can.”

He added: “It was a very im­por­tant win, es­pe­cially with Aberdeen drop­ping points against Hamil­ton on Tues­day night. We started well and got the open­ing goal.

“I don’t know if I can claim an as­sist for the first. Patrick [Roberts] got the ball and ran 40 yards after it. I was de­lighted for him and his per­for­mance was fan­tas­tic. But, of course, I was happy to score too.”

Arm­strong has now tar­geted an away vic­tory over Aberdeen this week­end which would put the Scot­tish cham­pi­ons 10 points clear at the head of the top-flight ta­ble with a game against Partick This­tle in hand.

“It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s in the Cham­pi­ons League or away to Ross County, we ap­proach the game in the same way and pre­pare the same.

“The fo­cus is now on Satur­day and we are aim­ing to ex­tend our lead. We def­i­nitely have the men­tal­ity that we want to be re­lent­less.”

TAK­ING HIS CHANCES: Stu­art Arm­strong’s re­cent Celtic per­for­mances have been en­cour­ag­ing.

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