Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer admits he still has a lot to learn – but believes boss Brendan Rodgers is the perfect man to maximise his talents.
The 19-year-old Norwegian centre-back gave another display of his burgeoning maturity before the winter break when he strolled through his Old Firm baptism.
His composed, assured display during the 0-0 draw with Rangers at Parkhead has already convinced Rodgers he can be relied upon on the big occasion.
And he may have to do just that with new signing Marvin Compper now out for up to four weeks with a calf injury and next month’s Europa League showdowns with Zenit St Petersburg looming.
Yet the heart of defence was not the role former Hoops boss Ronny Deila had in mind when he signed the teenager from boyhood side Start on a pre-contract two years ago.
Deila originally wanted his young compatriot to develop into a midfield anchorman but Ajer is glad Rodgers had different ideas.
“I think I’m developing really well here,” he said as he spoke to the media ahead of Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash with Brechin.
“The last year at the club has been extremely good. First with the loan at Killie where I got the game time.
“Coming back here I felt stronger and more ready to play.
“I was a midfielder when I signed for Celtic but I’ve always known that the position I could go furthest in was as a centre-half.
“Since day one here the gaffer has said I should play at the back and I really agree with him.
“The manager’s been brilliant, as have the rest of the staff. They’ve helped me a lot with it being a new position for me.
“It’s been a positive December. I played a lot of games. The manager puts his faith in all his players. When you get your chance for Celtic you have to grab it.
“This is one of the biggest clubs to play for so I’m really happy to be here. I’m still young and still have a lot to learn.
“I don’t know what the starting XI will be on Saturday but I will always do my best in training. I’m only 19 years old so I can develop so much more. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”
Ajer admits he knows next to nothing about Brechin but insists he will give the Ladbrokes Championship strugglers his full respect as the Hoops look to take another step towards an unprecedented double Treble.
He said: “To be honest I don’t know much about Brechin. We’ll do more on them before the game.
“But I do know there are high expectations when you play for Celtic and every game is big, especially at Celtic Park as the teams all want to come here and beat us.
“It’s a big game for them but it’s a big game for us too.
“They’ll give 100 per cent. We need to be on top of our game and we’ll make sure we are.”
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