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Unique angle throws up so many questions for Brendan Rodgers

Alexandro Bernabei and David Turnbull gave Celtic fans plenty to savour as the Second XI turned things around in the James Forrest Testimonial Match. And posed a few questions for Brendan Rodgers.

Neither player is likely to start against Ross County on Saturday but they have put down a marker, letting the new manager know what they are capable of.

Bernabei’s defensive ability is still in doubt but with Celtic having more than 60% possession in almost all domestic matches he looks a real addition to the attacking options.

Picking the ball up 30 yards from goal the training ground routines paid off as he raced into space with the ball delivered perfectly via Turnbull and Matt O’Riley. All three looked equally pleased with the execution to put Celtic back on level terms.

Buoyed by that, three minutes later Tony Ralston and Yang Hyun-jun created an opening. Oh Hyeon-gyu showed great confidence and strength to cut the ball back for Turnbull who has a great scoring record, netting, like Bernabei his second goal of pre-season.

Confidence was flowing from those two goals, everyone wanted to be involved, the passing and intensity remained high through until the final whistle with the Second Half Side very pleased with their contribution.

It was everything that Rodgers could have wished for unlike the first half showing.

Reo Hatate’s goal in the 37th minute was well taken but Celtic were very fortunate to be back on level terms after a sloppy start to the match that seemed to infect the midfield three.

The normally reliable Hatate set up the Bilbao opener while Tomoki Iwata was badly exposed for the visitors second goal but there were others culpable.

Fortunately it looked like Cameron Carter-Vickers had never been away. The former Spurs man signed off for last season with a majestic display at Hampden in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup.

Straight away Ange Postecoglou said that it was season over for his star defender, he had put his knee on the line enough. No title clincher, no Ibrox, no Scottish Cup Final but with the season starting on Saturday Carter-Vickers looks ready. With trips to Pittodrie and Ibrox coming up he’ll be needed.

Almost as welcome in the recovery role is Tony Ralston, left out of the Japan trip as Iwata and Ben McPherson alternated but putting in a solid 45 with one unfortunate Athletico winger running straight into the Scotland cap.

Bizarrely some Celtic fans have been screaming on line for a new right-back, an upgrade on Ralston.

In season 2020/21 Jeremy Frimpong was replaced by Jonjoe Kenny who sunk quickly with Ralston frozen out.

The upgrade in standards to Josip Juranovic and Alistair Johnson has been incredible, if Ralston wasn’t a Celtic fan he’d be off to an easier life in the English championship and probably a regular place in the Scotland squad.

Fortunately he is one of our own, on constant call to step in without complaint or taking the huff. If every deputy was of Ralston’s standard the squad would be in fantastic shape.

Saturday’s team sheet against Ross County is eagerly awaited, the real action gets underway with the clock quickly ticking towards dates at Pittodrie and Ibrox.



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