22 Dec Rodgers not an artificial fan
Brendan Rodgers has never seen a good game of football on a synthetic surface and expects no better when his Celtic side visit Hamilton on Saturday.
The Hoops, who are 14 points clear of Rangers at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership with a game in hand over the Ibrox club, hope to extend their 21-match unbeaten domestic record when they travel to the SuperSeal Stadium to take on the Accies on their FIFA-approved artificial turf.
The Northern Irishman, who saw his side win 1-0 on Kilmarnock’s plastic pitch, claims the move from grass will have no bearing on his team selection as he revealed winger James Forrest returns from a hamstring complaint while midfielder Tom Rogic remains out with an ankle problem.
However, Rodgers believes it will have a bearing on the quality of football.
“It is always difficult,” he said. “Any coach or manager will tell you, it is always a different game on a plastic pitch.
“I have yet to see a good game on a plastic pitch but I have to respect that the conditions for every club are different.
“Hamilton are a football club that has produced many great young players so they have a way of working and that’s what works for them, which is absolutely fine – I respect that.
“Most coaches will tell you the plastic pitch isn’t ideal and that’s where you feel for supporters because are they seeing the best game of football possible?
“For us, we have to turn up, be professional and look to get the job done.”
Asked if it was a challenge to Celtic to produce a good game of football against the Lanarkshire side, the former Swansea and Liverpool boss said: “I don’t think you can. I think it is about going there and getting a result.
“Like I say, I have never seen a good game of football on a plastic pitch.
“It brings lots of different elements to the game. It brings an unpredictability to the game that you wouldn’t see in normal circumstances.
“I have seen a number of games on plastic pitches and been involved in a number of games on plastic pitches. I have yet to see a good one.”
Celtic beat Hamilton 1-0 at home last week and Rodgers expects a similarly tough challenge.
He said: “They were a tough team to break down the last time we played them and it is on an AstroTurf pitch, of course, which makes it even more difficult, so we will go expecting another tough game but looking to continue with our sequence of good results.”
The Parkhead manager is pleased to have Forrest back after the Scotland player missed four games with a hamstring problem picked up in the Champions League clash at Manchester City last month.
He said: “He is back quicker than we expected, which is a great testament to him and our medical team.”
Rogic could be fit for the game against Ross County next week but, if not, the Hoops boss hopes to have him available for the game against Rangers at Ibrox on December 31.