It's almost hard to believe that Liam Scales kicked off the 2023/24 as a fringe player in the wider Celtic squad. 

Used sparingly during his first season under Ange Postecoglou, and sent out on loan to Aberdeen for the entirety of his second, the Irishman returned to Celtic under new manager Brendan Rodgers half-expecting to be sent back out elsewhere.

Drafted into the team as a result of a string of injuries, however, and Scales has now accrued 44 appearances in the Celtic first-team this season – the same number as club captain Callum McGregor, second only behind goalkeeper Joe Hart.

For Scales himself, consistency in his position and game time has brought him on exponentially – to the point where he wants this every single year, and will work as hard as he can to get it.

"As for me and my numbers, the fact that I've played a lot of games this year has helped me," Scales said. "I feel like I've gotten into a rhythm and haven't really come out of it. I think that's been a key factor for doing well this season. I think that's what I needed last year, going away to Aberdeen and getting game time.

"Obviously I couldn't play against Celtic while I was there, so there were definitely a few times where I wasn't in the team for a week, but I think that's key for me. I'm learning a lot while I'm playing and I'm delighted. It is good to finish your season with 40+ games, it's what you want for your whole career I suppose."

Assuming Scales starts against Rangers at Hampden in the Scottish Cup Final 2024 next weekend, the 25-year-old will make his 45th appearance for Celtic this season.

The Irishman is well aware of how tough the game will be, but he'd love nothing more than to mark that milestone with another derby win, another piece of silverware.

He added: "We had our celebrations and we enjoyed ourselves after winning the league, but now we have next weekend in mind.

"We know how big of a game that it is, and it's not like we've settled on the league, we want to go on and win the double, and everyone here is on the same page."