Ange Postecoglou praised his newly-formed central defence after they helped 10-man Celtic close out a 2-1 victory over Motherwell.
Stephen Welsh and Moritz Jenz again deputised with established centre-back pairing Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers still injured.
The pair first played together in a 4-1 Premier Sports Cup win over Ross County but were then installed for the trip to Paisley which ended Celtic’s 364-day unbeaten run in the cinch Premiership with defeat to St Mirren.
A defensive mix-up gifted Motherwell an equaliser on Saturday but that was down to a communication breakdown between goalkeeper Joe Hart and right-back Josip Juranovic, whose chested passback went over the line.
On his central defenders, Postecoglou said: “They did okay, they did well. They didn’t have to do too much defending. They stepped out a few times which is good.
“It’s hard because last year Carl and Cam were mainstays, neither of them really got injured.
“I have always felt centre-back pairings are really important in terms of understanding, in terms of knowing each other’s movements, the sort of idiosyncrasies they have.
“When you put one in, it’s a lot easier to adjust. But for Welshy and Mo, who has only been with for us a couple of months, as a new defensive pairing it’s not easy.
“Especially with the way we play, because they have a lot of the ball, we are very aggressive with our defending, they have to do a lot of one-on-one defending and covering at the same time.
“So it’s not easy but I think every game they play they will get a better understanding of one another, which I think will help us.
“You can have as strong a squad as possible but in my experience in football every now and then you will get hit in the same area and you realise why you need four centre-halves. Even then you are thinking ‘well, have we got enough?’ But you can only have so many players.
“But they were better and I’m sure they will grow in confidence from there.”
Cameron-Vickers remains a doubt for Wednesday’s Champions League against RB Leipzig in Germany after “pulling up sore” in training before the St Mirren defeat.
Postecoglou said: “He is not far away but we have another 12 games in 40 days so I am not going to put him in unless he is absolutely right, because it would be silly of us to put him in and then lose him for another few games, particularly with Carl out for at least another couple of weeks.”
Celtic prevailed thanks to Reo Hatate’s spectacular winner despite going down to 10 men late on when Callum McGregor prevented Ross Tierney running on to the Japan midfielder’s wayward pass with Hart off his line.
Motherwell have now taken one point from four games but could have had more from each of the games if they had taken chances at key times and manager Steven Hammell is prioritising results ahead of games against Ross County and Hibernian in the coming week.
“I would rather the opposite, not play well but get results and pick up points,” he said.
“They are difficult to come by, we’ve got a difficult month with a lot of fixtures in October that we need to pick up points from.
“We want to be a team that gets plaudits for the way we approach games, for sure, but that has to result in points at the end of the day.”