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  • New Bhoys impress manager in Lyon friendly

    New Bhoys impress manager in Lyon friendly

    By: Mark Henderson on 15 Jul, 2017 18:37

  • BRENDAN Rodgers has been impressed at how Kundai Benyu has taken to life at Celtic after the summer signing sparkled in today’s friendly against Olympique Lyonnais.

    The 19-year-old, who joined the club from Ipswich at the end of June, was handed his first top-team start today for the Bhoys as went down 4-0 to the Ligue 1 side in Paradise.

    And operating on the left of a front-three, he turned in a dynamic and positive display, coming close to opening the scoring in the first half when his shot was blocked on the line by Lyon skipper Jeremy Morel.

    Speaking after the game, the manager said: “He has surprised me to be honest. I knew he was a good player. You see what we are trying to build here in players who are technically gifted but they have to have good mobility and physicality, and he has that.

    “He has come in and played with a nice little edge. He’s competitive and he has confidence. We played him off the side where he can come in and help the team dominate the ball on the inside.

    “How he receives the ball is very good. He’s an attacking player who wants to get goals and he’s quite exciting. I thought he was very good for a 19-year-old coming into this environment and, looking at him at close-hand, he has done very well.

    “Obviously he’s a young player and we will just see how he develops. Initially the plan was to have him in, thinking he could come in and get an idea of how we work and then go on loan. But I have changed my mind with him over this period of time, just watching him.

    “It’s going to be good for him to come in and have six months with us initially to see how we work and train, and get an education in our football idea and then we’ll review it again in January and see how he is at. He is certainly a boy who can contribute for us and he has done very well.”

    Olivier Ntcham also looked assured on his bow in the Hoops, having joined the club on Wednesday from Manchester City.

    And the Hoops boss revealed it was a matter of time before the midfielder became a key individual for the Scottish treble-winners.

    “For Olivier, it’s only fitness,” he said.  “You see how he moved in the game today – he could have played for them. He has the qualities to play at the very highest level.

    “His range of passing makes the game look very simple – he can play it short and long, and he can dribble and shoot. He has everything to be a top level No.8.

    “It’s just timing for him really. That was his first game and 60 minutes was enough for him today and he will build up his fitness over the course of the next few weeks. When he’s ready he will be a big player for us.”

    Despite the defeat to French outfit, Brendan Rodgers was pleased with the exercise, which came less than 24 hours after Celtic eased to a 2-0 win away to Linfield in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round.    

    “I really enjoyed it,” he said.  “Up to the first hour, it was a real good game. Obviously when the Linfield game was rearranged, you could look at it and very easily not play the game, but I have a responsibility to try and get as many of my players as fit as they can for the beginning of the season and throughout the season. For that, it was a great exercise.

    “In the first hour, I thought we were excellent against a good side. In the first half we were very good in some of our combination play, while the speed of our game was excellent, and we should probably have went in ahead at that time.

    “Once we make the changes into the second half, it becomes a bit broken and the level in our quality changes. The senior players like Nir (Bitton), Callum McGregor, Olivier, Moussa, Jonny Hayes and all these boys got good game-time, and young Beni did really well.”

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