Brendan Rodgers backs Celtic squad players for December impact

Celtic pair Gary Mackay-Steven and Ryan Christie in training
Gary Mackay-Steven and Ryan Christie may feature for Celtic in the coming weeks

Manager Brendan Rodgers insists his fringe players will be "critical" as Celtic prepare for a busy December.

The leaders will play eight Premiership games before the turn of the year, with a final Champions League group fixture against Manchester City next Tuesday.

"You are playing every two to three days but we have a good squad here and they will all be needed," said Rodgers.

"It is a brilliant opportunity for us to accumulate a lot more points. That is the focus."

Celtic, unbeaten domestically this season, are eight points in front of nearest challengers Hearts and Rangers, who have both played three more matches.

Rodgers picked up his first silverware as a manager last weekend, with Aberdeen brushed aside 3-0 in the League Cup final.

Gary Mackay-Steven was on the bench at Hampden after recovering from an ankle operation at the end of last season and the winger's return is an exciting prospect for Rodgers.

"I have a number of boys here who have been absolutely brilliant in training every day," he said.

"Gary Mackay-Steven is really up to speed in terms of his fitness and I am actually looking forward to seeing Gary play.

Gary Mackay-Steven last played in April
Mackay-Steven's last appearance was in April's Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Rangers

"It has been very difficult for him because he missed out over the course of pre-season and by the time he was coming back the team was up and running. James Forrest, Scott Sinclair, Patrick Roberts, these guys were really playing well so it was difficult for him to get a chance.

"The likes of him, Ryan Christie, Liam Henderson, Cristian Gamboa, Dedryck Boyata, these are boys who have been on the outside, working very hard but haven't had a lot of game time.

"But they are so important to what we are doing here as a squad because for us to be at our best, the players who aren't playing need to be at their best every day and that's what improves you as a player.

"So they will be critical for us in this period and I am sure they will get some game time.

"Every manager will say that it is a tough ask to play that many games in that period of time but if it is what is presented to you, you have to deal with it.

"We won't moan, we will get on with it and it will provide us with the opportunity to work our squad."

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