BRENDAN Rodgers has predicted Kieran Tierney could have a bright future as a CENTRE HALF for both Celtic AND Scotland after watching him play there for 45 minutes in the pre-season friendly with Slavia Prague.

Tierney moved inside next to Jozo Simunovic in the second half of the match against the Czech champions in the Eden Arena on Tuesday evening after Dedryck Boyata had limped off with a knee injury.

The 20-year-old, as always, performed with enormous assurance and great maturity and helped to ensure the Glasgow club kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with their hosts.

Rodgers was effusive in his praise of the youngster afterwards and revealed he would be confident of slotting him in there if required in the Champions League second qualifying round matches against Linfield of his native Northern Ireland in the coming fortnight.

What is more, he believes Tierney could provide a solution to what has been something of a problem position for Scotland in recent years.

The left back switched to the right in the Russia 2018 qualifier against Slovenia at Hampden back in March and acquitted himself superbly in a Group F game which the national team won 1-0.

However, Rodgers feels he is versatile enough to play in the middle of a back line both in Europe and at international level going forward and stated he will continue to test the prodigiously gifted player by selecting him in different positions.

“He enjoys it,” he said after arriving back in Glasgow following Celtic’s pre-season tour of Austria and the Czech Republic. “He loves it.

“What helps him is that he can score goals from that area as well. When he steps in he can step in centrally and get his shot off. Sometimes when he is wide he is going down the line in the system. Last year he scored four goals and had 12 assists.

“He’s a young boy I’d like to develop to play different positions. I had Sterling (Liverpool and England winger Raheem) at Anfield and played him top of a diamond. I played him left side, played him as a striker. It gives them great value and confidence in their game.

“They see the game from a different viewpoint. When you look at Kieran, rather than being the stiff left-back who gets rid of the ball he is now cultured and can pass it and is quick in the recovery. You can see he can leap as well because he has good power.

“In international football and European football you don’t need to be 6ft 3in to play centre-half. As long as you have got a couple of guys that are dominant in the air he can step in and play. I thought he was excellent against Slavia.”

Gordon Strachan, the Scotland manager, has repeatedly bemoaned the dearth of top class options that he has available to him at centre half and has played a series of players in the position in the four and a half years he has been in charge of his country with varying degrees of success.

Rodgers, who watched Isle of Man-born kid star for his team in the Champions League group stages against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach and Manchester City as well as domestically during the 2016/17 campaign, feels that Strachan could do far worse than giving Tierney a run-out there.

“Could KT play at centre half in international football?” he said. “Yes, for sure, for sure. Especially if you play with a three. He can play on the outside of a back three absolutely no problem. He can sit in there and serve. He wants the ball, he can play, he is quick.

“So he is very multi-functional. He has good ideas and he is gaining confidence in passing and playing. He is a big talent.”

Rodgers added: “He has played left back, left-sided centre-half and right back. We worked on him playing the left side of a diamond because when he was a young player he was a midfield player. He played wide, played inside then obviously went to left back.

“So, yeah, he is someone that has brilliant talent, his aggression, his will to win, is good. He is getting better under pressure. There were a couple of times against Slavia the other night when he could just have got rid of it. Instead he had composure and made the pass. To play the team out of pressure.

“You need to have that when you are playing for a big club and you need to have it internationally. He is improving all the time in that aspect. He is doing well.”

Rodgers appreciates that his players will attract interest from clubs in the Barclays Premier League as a result of their success last season and is unperturbed about Southampton being interested in signing Stuart Armstrong despite the midfielder, whose current deal expires next summer, so far failing to agree to a contract extension.

Tierney has been repeatedly linked with moves down south and his manager revealed that he insisted a multi-million pound bid from over the border be turned down immediately after he had taken over from Ronny Deila at Parkhead last year.

The 44-year-old, though, is positive the Scot will continue his development at the club he grew up supporting as a boy and has played for since he was just seven.

“He is loving life at Celtic,” said Rodgers. “He is Celtic-daft. He is in a real happy place. He is clever Kieran, he knows he is still learning the game. His passion is Celtic. It’s great to see. He comes in with a smile, he comes in to learn.

“He loves playing for Celtic. Celtic is his life and has been his life since he was a child. He has that intensity and you see it. He’s a great representation of the supporters.

“At this stage in his life he signed a five year deal last year he is playing, he is developing, he is playing week in and week out and is winning. He is an outstanding talent, but still growing, still improving and that’s what he wants.”