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Saturday 3 December 2016

Rodgers: Celtic squad in great shape for Dons

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers insists his Celtic squad is in great shape for their clash with Aberdeen tomorrow after his much-changed Hoops side won 4-0 at beat Ross County.

The Hoops boss made eight changes to the team which booked their place in the Betfred Cup final against the Dons with a 1-0 win over Rangers on Sunday, with skipper Scott Brown one of those left out after becoming a father to a boy, his third, on Tuesday night.

Emilio Izaguirre, Cristian Gamboa, Armstrong, Callum McGregor, Roberts, Ryan Christie, Liam Henderson and Leigh Griffiths all came into the side in Dingwall and it was Roberts who scored in the third minute with a fine finish.

Although the Stags had opportunities to level - defender Andrew Davies hit the post with a header after the break - midfielder Stuart Armstrong clinched the points in the 83rd minute with a drive before substitutes Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele added further goals in added time.

Celtic moved seven points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership ahead of the trip to Pittodrie on Saturday, having played a game less and unbeaten domestically in 13 games.

"They will be fresh for the game at the weekend," said Rodgers. "That was the whole plan.

"So in terms of that it could not have gone any better. The game was played at a real good tempo and intensity.

"Every single one of them is totally fit. They are all fit and playing at a tempo. I gave Scott (Brown) a rest, he has three boys now.

"I thought the players who came in delivered and were outstanding.

"But it was a tough game, Ross County are one of the best teams we have played and we know it will be a tough one on Saturday."

Staggies boss Jim McIntyre was looking for referee Alan Muir to take more punitive action with regards to Griffiths after the Hoops striker tangled with Davies while already on a booking, and on Parkhead keeper Craig Gordon, who was given only a yellow card for a high challenge on striker Liam Boyce.

McIntyre said: "I think it is a very harsh score. For the last 15 minutes we chose to put another attacker on to try to get something out of the game.

"Up until then we were well in it and created some good opportunities.

"But there were a couple of key decisions where I'm scratching my head wondering why we are not getting them.

"First, it was definitely a second booking on Leigh Griffiths - he has a wee swipe at Andrew Davies, but we don't get it. If that's our player, he's off.

"Then you had Craig Gordon's challenge - it's high, it's dangerous, it's reckless.

"If an outfield player went in that high, he'd go off the park."

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