Date: 28th December 2017 at 8:31am
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The more that he sees of him the more Brendan Rodgers likes.

It may be a happy coincidence but since coming into the side that lost 4-0 at Tynecastle Kris Ajer has helped Celtic to three clean sheets and nine points towards lifting the title.

Any young player emerging at Celtic has to deal with high expectations and demands but in his play and attitude the teenage Norwegian looks like he is improving game by game.

Central defence has developed into a real problem area this season but the emergence of Ajer and arrival of Marvin Compper almost provides a ready made solution.

Rodgers has played the Norwegian u-21 defender ahead of Nir Bitton and Erik Sviatchenko and won’t think twice about putting Ajer in from the start for Saturday’s derby with Sevco.

I thought he was outstanding,” Rodgers told the Evening Times about Ajer’s performance at Dundee. “You can really clearly see the development in him. Defensively, he is winning his headers which is important for a centre-half, especially when you put pressure on the team, the opponent.

They kick long balls and you have got to have someone who can go and dominate. And at 6 foot 5 he is starting to do that now.

You can see him growing in stature and the physicality of the game. His positioning is good and he is up, he is alert, he is squeezing the pitch – he is never going for a sleep and then he has the pace if anything goes behind to deal with it.

With his experience in midfield and his comfort on the ball is very clear. He has this wonderful ability to carry the ball and make his way through the team. I thought he was very good [against Dundee.]”

With the exception of Callum McGregor the loan system has rarely worked in Celtic’s favour but it is increasingly looking like the time Ajer spent at Kilmarnock has been invaluable as Rodgers searches for a solution to the weakness in his defence.