Football/Soccer

Liam Henderson catching the eye of Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers

Laim Henderson earned the praise of manager Brendan Rodgers for his performance in Celtic’s home win over Motherwell at Celtic Park on Saturday. Picture by PA
Liam Maguire

Scottish Premiership: Celtic 2 Motherwell 0

Liam Henderson is determined to become a regular for Celtic under “world class” manager Brendan Rodgers.

The 20-year-old midfielder made his debut three years ago as a late substitute in a 5-0 win at Motherwell.

However, there followed loan spells at Norwegian side Rosenborg and Hibernian, where he won a William Hill Scottish Cup winners’ medal last season.

Henderson returned to Parkhead in the summer as Rodgers took over from Ronny Deila and after two substitute appearances under the Carnlough man he made his first start in the 2-0 win at home to Motherwell on Saturday.

A Scott Sinclair strike and a late Moussa Dembele penalty kept the Hoops four points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership with a game in hand.

The Scotland U21 international was “delighted” to play his part and believes working under Rodgers increases his chances of becoming an established first-team player.

He said: “When I came back (from Hibs) I had quite a lot of teams interested in taking me on loan but I spoke to my family, friends, older experienced players I have played with and I speak to the manager regularly.

“I have done my loans.

“I have been out on two loan spells and I would like to think I have been pretty successful in those loan spells and I want to look back and have no regrets.

“ I want to give it the best shot I can try to be a Celtic player.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Celtic is definitely the best place for me.

“We have a big, quality squad and everyone is fighting for places.

“It is a great place to be and you can see the fans are turning out, we are playing extremely attractive football and I am working under a world-class manager so for me it is second to none.

“It is only going to make me better.”

Rodgers was pleased with what he saw from Henderson as he now turns his attention to the Champions League game against Borussia Monchengladbach at Celtic Park on Wednesday night.

“I’ve been wanting to see young Liam for a period of time because I think he’s a talent but it’s been hard to get him in,” he said.

“But I felt it was a good day for that and I thought he was excellent in the game tactically - thinking about the game and playing with his brain - and physically he was very good.”

Rodgers also praised Moussa Dembele’s desire which won his side the penalty which sealed the three points.

The striker chased what looked like a lost cause inside the Well penalty area, arriving at the ball before keeper Craig Samson who took his feet away.

The 20-year-old Frenchman picked himself up and slammed in the penalty for his 13th goal for Celtic since arriving from Fulham in the summer

Rodgers said: “I said to the players before the game for us to succeed it’s not just about us being hungry for the success, it’s about being starving.

“You have to really, really push yourself in moments when you think things are gone and you have to fight.

“That (Dembele) was a perfect example of the spirit in the team in that they will chase everything.

“That looked like it was dead and was going to go through to the keeper but he made it something.

“The best strikers do that and create something out of nothing or make something for themselves.

“He made the penalty through his endeavour. Forget about his quality, that’s about a mind-set to get there and he tucked it away really well.”

Rodgers confirmed he will be involved in the restructuring of the backroom staff at Celtic following the news on Friday that highly-rated head of football development, John Park, will leave the club after nine years.

“Very much so but that’s not for here,” said Rodgers.

“That’s about internally behind the scenes and what we want to do going forward.

“I put on record my thanks to John. I’ve only been here a short period of time but he’s been here for a number of years.

“So on behalf of myself and the club officially I thank him for his work here and will now look to put someone in place within that role that can hopefully make the next steps forward,” added the former Liverpool boss, who revealed injured duo Mikael Lustig and Nir Bitton – who missed Saturday’s game – should be fit for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach.

Football/Soccer

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