Brendan Rodgers happy Nicolas Kuhn is adapting to life at Celtic

The winger impressed during his first home start in the Scottish Cup win over Livingston.

Brendan Rodgers happy Nicolas Kuhn is adapting to life at Celtic SNS Group

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers feels Nicolas Kuhn is beginning to reach the levels demanded after the winger enjoyed a promising first start at Parkhead.

Kuhn set up the first of Daizen Maeda’s three goals and caused a number of problems to Livingston left-back Cristian Montano during Celtic’s 4-2 Scottish Gas Scottish Cup win on Sunday.

The 24-year-old arrived from Rapid Vienna in January on the back of dental surgery which affected his strength.

Despite netting a goal and impressing off the bench at Aberdeen in his second appearance, the former Germany youth international had struggled in his first two starts for Celtic.

But the absence of the suspended Yang Hyun-jun and injured Luis Palma offered him his chance against Livi and he seized his opportunity.

Rodgers said: “In fairness to him, I think we mentioned it before, for anyone not working with him every day and seeing the difference, when he first came in he was in the midst of his break and I think he said he’d lost seven kilos.

“You can imagine that when you are only slight anyway. To lose over a stone, I think he found that he’d lost his strength and his running capacity.

“So it’s been about building him up. I think he feels great now.

“He’s still got a bit of work to do. But I think you saw that much more aggressive (approach) in his game, in one v ones, taking people on, finding the pass for Daizen’s goal. So yes, that’s more of what we want to see.

“It’s just adaption. He’ll progress I’m sure in his time but that was very good.

“He’s coming to a country where the intensity and the expectations are huge. It’s about settling into that and then finding your rhythm.

“Some can do it straight away. With some it takes a little bit of time.

“You saw on Sunday, he was much more aggressive, penetrating much more with his passes and his one v ones. He was a real threat for us.”

Celtic were also missing Callum McGregor, Reo Hatate and Cameron Carter-Vickers against Livi but there was some encouragement for the fans with news that the Japanese midfielder is in line to make his comeback when the same teams meet in the league on March 30.

Hatate has missed much of the past 12 months with hamstring and calf problems.

Rodgers said: “He’s out on the pitch doing his work so we’re hoping that after the international break he’ll be with the squad.

“He’ll be training with the group in the international break and will be available afterwards.

“Just having the availability of that level of player, the dynamism he has, clearly it’s something that we’ve missed. So to have him back will be great.”

Carter-Vickers was left out as a precaution on Sunday amid ongoing hamstring issues, while Celtic hope some rest will see McGregor shrug off Achilles pain before they face Rangers on April 7.

Rodgers believes the return of his key players will have a major impact.

“I just think the football looks different,” he said. “I’ve said it all season.

“You saw the Dundee game and the influence of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Callum McGregor.

“These are huge players for us. They get us through the pitch, and they squeeze the pitch. There’s never a drama when they are there. Everything is compact and tight.

“Hopefully, fingers crossed, we can get them all back.”

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