Celtic’s interim boss John Kennedy will not be surprised to see defender Kristoffer Ajer attract interest in the summer.
The Hoops assistant manager was promoted on Wednesday morning following the resignation of Neil Lennon and got off to a winning start at home to Aberdeen thanks to Odsonne Edouard’s deflected strike in the eighth minute.
The Dons improved after the break and 22-year-old Norway international Ajer played his part as the home side repelled several crosses and set-pieces into the box.
Ajer joined Celtic in 2016 from Norwegian outfit Start and is out of contract in the summer of 2022 with AC Milan linked previously.
An impressed Kennedy said: “Kris was terrific especially in the second half when Aberdeen put us under pressure.
“I’ve known him since he came in here as a kid on trial. He’s a great character and a leader, in terms of how he works and conducts himself.
“That was a big performance from him today. Even when he was tired at the end, he was throwing himself in front of things or getting his head on balls.
“We know he’s a good footballer but we’ve always tried to work on his aggression the box.
“That didn’t come naturally to him because as a kid he was a number 10 in midfield. But he’s got it in his game now and that performance will give him confidence.
“Kris isn’t overly thinking about his future. For him it’s just about giving his best wherever he is.
“I’ve no doubt that there will be interest in him. He’s still very young and he’s an international player.
“With his profile of speed, size, technique and ability – there’s going to be interest in him.
“When that comes it’ll be the club and Kris himself making that decision.”
On Celtic’s performance in his first game in charge, the former Hoops defender said: “I thought we started well. We came out with a real positive mind-set to play from the back even if Aberdeen were going to press us.
“We did that well, we picked them off. There were some bits to tidy up but in the main it was good.
“We got a good goal in terms of how it was worked before the deflection.”
It was the second time in 10 days that the Dons had lost 1-0 at Celtic Park.
Manager Derek McInnes said: “I don’t think Celtic got going, they had a couple of chances on the break with Callum McGregor and Edouard but in the last two performances against them I felt we were pinning them in their own half.
“I’m disappointed because I thought the performance, like the other night, was deserving of something from the game.”
Aberdeen are still four points behind third-placed Hibernian – who lost 2-0 to Motherwell – having played a game more but McInnes believes the Easter Road side can still be caught.
He said: “Post-split games is where it always sorts itself out.
“We now have two games, Hamilton at home and Dundee United where it is important that we try to get winning performances then we can go into the post-split games where we can be relevant.
“We owe Celtic one, we need to deal with them at Pittodrie and we need to play Hibs at Pittodrie again.
“We need to make sure the next two games really decide the relevance of the post-split games.
“There is nobody in our dressing room thinks third place is beyond us.”
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