Brendan Rodgers has revealed that in terms of talent Karamoko Dembele could be playing in the Celtic first team.
Early last season the precocious teenager made a substitute appearance for the Celtic Development side with the 13-year-old creating headlines north and south of the border.
Dembele is being courted by both England and Scotland at international level with clubs across Europe monitoring his development closely.
The school kid has joined in a couple of training sessions with the Celtic first team but Rodgers is well aware that it could prove disastrous if he was to be pitched into first team football.
On Tuesday night against Celtic 16-year-old Harry Cochrane was injured before half time with Rodgers in no rush to push his own highly talented teenager into first team action.
“From a talent perspective I could probably put Karamoko Dembele in to the first team right now but he’s coming up to 15,” the Celtic boss told the Daily Mail.
“I have to think about where he is at in terms of his maturation level. Not just his talent level.
“‘I don’t want to get into a whole episode with Craig when I suspect he was being tongue in cheek but if you put a 16-year-old in against the champions at home, who play with an aggression like we do, then you know as a manager what’s coming.
“I am sure that’s something Craig thinks about – but it makes it harder when they cope each time they get put in. You are tempted to keep putting him in again. He’s a good talent who’s still got a lot to learn, of course.
“But he will have certainly have learnt from playing against Celtic in these last two games, and Scott Brown in particular.”
Dembele has been playing for Celtic’s u-16 and u-17 sides this season and will turn 15 later this month.
After the publicity of playing in the Development League he came in for some extra physical treatment but has been used to that since he arrived at Celtic.