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Rodgers points the way forward for Kelly and Vata

Over the last couple of years it has almost become the forgotten element of team building- promoting from your own Academy.

With the Celtic first team squad bloated to over 30 players there is almost no need to develop your own players with participation in the Lowland League unlikely to be a springboard to the real thing.

While first team results are what he is judged on Brendan Rodgers has always had an eye on the younger players that might be capable of taking the step up, initially through training sessions to see if they have the mentality to match the demands and expectations of a Celtic first teamer.

During his first stint in charge, following a 5-1 win at Ibrox Tony Ralston and Mikey Johnston were in from the start as Celtic beat St Johnstone to remain on course for the Invincible Treble.

The progress of those two players is a lesson for every kid at the club, yesterday they were still on the bench at home to Buckie Thistle with two other bright sparks looking to get the chance to make a first team impression.

After 64 minutes, Rocco Vata, with four substitute appearances last season, replaced Kyogo Furuhashi. Eight minutes later he was joined on the pitch by Daniel Kelly, taking over from Odin Thiago Holm and enjoying his first ever top team appearance.

After the match The Celtic Way reported Rodgers’ assessment of the teenagers:

For both young players, Rocco has played before and he has potential. He needs a lot of work but he has lots of attributes. He is strong, he has decent pace and he wants to score goals. It is all about discipline for young players and doing the work and having the right attitude.

It was nice for him as he gets that feeling of scoring. He has been here since he was a kid and it is a great moment for him and his family. I have been really impressed with Daniel Kelly too. He is a young player, he has got good physicality and is naturally left-footed and he has good energy.

His attitude is so good and it was nice for him to feel that experience. For those young guys to get a taste of it is great and it is about their mentality and wanting to keep improving.

With Daizen Maeda and Oh Hyeon-gyu at the Asian Cup it looks like Vata can expect to be back up to Kyogo over the next couple of games, previously viewed as a winger his goal yesterday showed the instinct of a striker.

Despite reports of interest from various Italian clubs it would now seem that there is no chance of Vata leaving Celtic in January.

Kelly’s options look very different. Paulo Bernardo is gaining momentum with every appearance, Holm is a first season project with Reo Hatate due back from international duty next month.

Opportunities look very limited for Kelly in the remainder of the season, getting out on loan with regular football at a Championship club would seem the best option, joining Ben Summers, Ben McPherson and Mackenzie Carse in the second tier as they aspire to matching the elite group of James Forrest, Callum McGregor and Kieran Tierney in graduating all the way to Champions League level.

CLICK HERE to watch full highlights of Celtic 5-0 Buckie Thistle.

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