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We had a number of mistakes for the goals, losing possession and otherwise- Rodgers doesn’t sugar coat 6-4 defeat

Brendan Rodgers attempted to put Celtic’s 6-4 defeat to Yokohama F Marinos in perspective as he took charge of the hoops for the first time since February 2019.

After losing the opening goal in the fourth minute the visitors always looked vulnerable with Marinos substitute Ryo Muyaichi  twisting the knife with two goals in the last five minutes although there was still time for David Turnbull to add to Daizen Maeda’s first half hat-trick.

Going forward Celtic looked sharp and inventive with Reo Hatate catching the eye with a robust performance under pressure while drilling through passes that Liel Abada and Maeda thrived off.

There were no summer signings on show at any point among the 22 players used with the problems evident in defence at the end of last season carryied over into the first match post-Postecoglou.

Injuries to Cameron Carter-Vickers and Alistair Johnston were known in advance but with Tony Ralston also missing Tomoki Iwata played for 65 minutes at right-back followed by Ben McPherson on his first top team appearance.

Speaking to The Sun, Rodgers said: “It’s a period of the season where we are only a few weeks in and assessing every player and where we are at. 

We could have been better for the first goal before it got to Joe. It’s 25 yards out and we have a player turning inside our organisation, which shouldn’t happen.

We had a number of mistakes for the goals, losing possession and otherwise. As I said, I am assessing everything at the moment. It was a really good exercise for us.

It was a real challenge from a physical perspective. We have just arrived in Japan and we played against a team who are more than halfway into their season.

That was always going to be a challenge. There were some really good bits in the game and the goals were excellent.

We gave away poor goals but we will get fitter and improve the structure of the team as we go along. The result isn’t the priority at this point so we’ll prepare for when it matters.”

Rodgers will have to go with the same squad of players again on Saturday against Gamba Osaka although Yuki Kobayashi could miss out through injury.

Stephen Welsh or Liam Scales is likely to start alongside Starfelt on Saturday with Bosun Lawal, one of three unused substitutes today, expected to be involved.

Right-back looks like being an issue, Hatate played two matches in that position last December but Rodgers would be loathe to take his creativity out of the Celtic midfield.

No detailed timeline has been given for the return of Carter-Vickers or Johnston, it looks like neither is with the squad in Japan which allows them to get treatment at Lennoxtown without travel and hotel issues.

With just over a fortnight to go until the SPFL gets underway with a visit from Ross County there will be some pressure on the recruitment team to bring in first team starters rather than 21-year-old prospects in the £1-2m bracket.

The match against Ross County should be negotiated without any mishap but trips to Ibrox and Pittodrie in the first four rounds of fixtures will provide tough tests.

With no European qualifiers Rodgers has the luxury of being able to work on the training ground throughout the week but fans would be happier if that is with new players on board, especially defenders.

On the pitch over two seasons the contribution of Carter-Vickers was immense but in his absence it is clear that there is a massive drop in standards, finding another central defender of similar quality will be a big task for the Celtic recruitment team.

CELTIC: Hart (Siegrist 46), Iwata (McPherson 67), Starfelt (Scales 67), Kobayashi (Welsh 60), Taylor (Bernabei 67) McGregor (Kelly 67), Hatate (Turnbull 67), O’Riley (Oh 67), Haksabanovic (Summers 67), Abada (Forrest 67), Maeda (Kyogo 67).

Subs: Bain, Lawal, Vata


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