BRENDAN RODGERS, the Celtic manager, has urged Emilio Izaguirre, his second choice left back, to play his way to a new contract at Parkhead while Kieran Tierney is out injured.

Rodgers has been pleased with how Izaguirre has performed in defence since Tierney, who underwent an operation on ankle ligament damage on Thursday, has been sidelined.

The Honduran internationalist has helped the Scottish champions to record victories over Ross County and Aberdeen away in the Ladbrokes Premiership and extend their lead at the top of the table to nine points.

The 30-year-old also did well in the 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach in a Champions League group game in the Stadion Borussia-Park in Germany on Tuesday evening.

Izaguirre, who has admitted that he was persuaded to remain at Celtic in the summer after Rodgers took over from Ronny Deila as manager, is out of contract at the end of 2016/17 campaign.

However, the Irishman, whose team take on Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Celtic Park in the league this afternoon, would like to have both Izaguirre and Tierney at his disposal beyond this season.

“That’s the idea,” he said. “We need to have the competition. We have one with experience and one with youthfulness. So it is the perfect balance.

“He (Izaguirre) has been very good since coming back into the team. It is a testament to how hard he has been working.

“A lot of the guys who have been playing regularly have got a lot of credit and rightly so. But they have only been so good because there are a lot of guys in behind them who have been pushing them every day.

“Emilio has come in and played Ross County away, Aberdeen away, Monchengladbach away and showed up very well.

“I was really pleased with the defensive part of his game. I think he is renowned more for going forward, but he has defended strongly. It is great for him. And great for me to have someone like that.”

Rodgers will have Leigh Griffiths and Jozo Simunovic, who both missed the game against Bundesliga club Monchengladbach in midweek, available for the meeting with Caledonian Thistle today.

The Highlanders are the only club Celtic have failed to beat domestically this season; they were held to a 2-2 draw at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium back in September.

“I think that was a game we should have won, one we should have been comfortable in,” said Rodgers. “Especially in the second half when we created a lot of chances. But fair play to Inverness. They kept going and they nicked a goal late on.

“I think they have shown since that the point gave them a little bit of confidence. When we played them, they probably weren’t so high on confidence because they hadn’t made a great start.

“They played a different type of game back then, they were quite direct and long. But they have gained some confidence and they are passing the ball and moving well, creating goals.

“For us, though, we go into the game knowing we have improved again since that last match. Now it is a chance to play the game with a big intensity and hopefully get the result we want.”