THE Celtic game against Blau-Weiss Linz in Rohrbach on Wednesday evening was a typical pre-season affair. The opposition was the local part-time team and only a few hundred supporters were in attendance. To say it was low-key was an understatement.

But it was an occasion that Brendan Rodgers, who gave his son Anton a run-out in the second half, will never forget all the same. It was the first time he had taken charge of a team his boy had played for. It was clearly a special moment. His parental pride was obvious afterwards.

Rodgers Jnr, a professional footballer who has spent time at Chelsea, Brighton and Oldham Athletic, was released by English League One club Swindon Town at the end of last season. He is training with the Scottish champions here in Austria in a bid to get himself fit and secure a move to a new club ahead of the new campaign.

Read more: Brendan Rodgers: Stuart Armstrong is happy at Celtic - I'm confident he'll commit his future to the Parkhead clubHeraldScotland: Anton Rodgers in action for Celtic on Wednesday night.

Yet, injuries to Eboue Kouassi and Kristoffer Ajer meant that a place in the BW Linz game unexpectedly became available. The visitors fielded a completely different XI in the second half to the first.

The opportunities for newspaper headline writers were endless as Brendan’s Bhoy took to the field in what was very much a Celtic Family affair.

“As you can imagine, it was a wee bit nervy for him as he came here to train and all of a sudden he was playing in a Celtic pre-season friendly,” said Rodgers.

“But he’s played around 100-odd league games so he’s used to playing. When we were putting together the teams we thought he could play so there was no special treatment. Playing with good players helped him too.”

The presence of the midfielder with the Celtic squad in Austria and his selection for the BW Linz game has inevitably been questioned by some. Rodgers, though, is unconcerned about how his involvement may be perceived. He is just delighted to have what is a rare opportunity to assist his son out in his career.

“I’m not worried,” he said. “I’m not the first manager in the world who has had a son who played football. It’s more important to me that I have a son, that the father and son relationship is there.

“I spend my life trying to help staff, helping players, helping them financially and making their lives better. I probably see my son less than most. I see you guys (the Scottish press) more than him. I am in a position where I can help him.

Read more: Brendan Rodgers: Stuart Armstrong is happy at Celtic - I'm confident he'll commit his future to the Parkhead club

“I have no worries on that score. It’s the first time I have ever worked with him. I have always been aware of that. He is the same as everyone else. He is here to work, to get himself fit.

“We’re very close and he sees the game how I see the game. For a young guy he’s got talent. He wants to play forward passes and open up the game and he’s comfortable.”

It would possibly have looked bad if Anton had performed poorly. But the 24-year-old acquitted himself well. He put in a tireless shift in the centre of the park and distributed the ball intelligently. There is, though, no chance of him being signed permanently.

“I’ve always wanted to maintain a father son relationship,” said Rodgers. “I’m not always a nice guy as a manager. That’s the first time he’s played for me.

“He was out of contract and, as a demanding father, I said to him ‘don’t be on holiday too long’. If he’s going to go in somewhere in July he has to be working before then.

“I said to him to come up with us and do a couple of weeks training and then he’ll be ready to go on to his next club with a decent level of fitness.

“There’s no use him lying on a beach somewhere. He has to work. The same rules apply across the board whether he’s my son or someone else.

“He’s a great kid with a brilliant football brain and he mixes well with others. There is no drama or issue with him. He can play football. He’ll move on from there. He knows clearly where he is at with us.”

Asked if a move to a Scottish club was a possibility, Rodgers said: “He has a son in Reading. He has got to be more down south I would think. Most of the English clubs don’t start till July and this is a chance for him to get fit with a brilliant bunch of guys here.”

Read more: Brendan Rodgers: Stuart Armstrong is happy at Celtic - I'm confident he'll commit his future to the Parkhead club

Celtic won the Linz game 1-0 thanks to a late James Forrest goal. But the outcome was unimportant to Rodgers.

With a Champions League qualifier against either La Fiorita or Linfield – who are leading the first qualifying round tie 1-0 after the first leg at Windsor Park on Wednesday evening - looming early next month he is keen to get his charges fitness and match sharpness up quickly and the exercise served its purpose perfectly.

“The most important thing for us was the fitness element of the game,” he said. “After the boys being off for a number of weeks it was good to get back out there.

“They’ve been working really hard since coming here and pushing themselves physically. So it was nice to mix the teams up.

“We still have a way to go in terms of our sharpness, but that’ll come as the pre-season goes on. Looking at the shape and the comfort of the way the team is playing it was good to see. There is a big difference from where we were last year.”

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