As a dress rehearsal before the real action gets underway for Celtic, there were plenty of positives to take from their demolition of Shamrock Rovers yesterday afternoon. Nine goals spread throughout the team, some much-needed match fitness tucked under the belt and a goal for Moussa Dembele on his first start since hobbling off with a hamstring injury in April's Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers.

But as worthwhile an exercise as this was, it looked to be coming at a price, as captain Scott Brown gingerly hobbled off injured during the first half to be replaced by Nir Bitton. But manager Brendan Rodgers played down fears of a sweat over his captain's fitness with the all-important Champions League qualifiers looming.

“Broony had a sore Achilles," Rodgers revealed. "The surface was very good but he just felt his Achilles.

“He should be fine. He’s been fine until today. There’s no need to risk and that’s one of the key elements to pre-season games.”

With or without Brown though, Celtic should have more than enough in the tank to see off Linfield over two legs, and they displayed their daunting firepower here to sweep Rovers aside with ease.

With the trip to Windsor Park on the horizon, Rodgers named a strong lineup at the Tallaght Stadium. He had intimated before the match that he may look to strengthen his defensive options on the back of the news that Dedryck Boyata faces an extended spell of up to three months on the sidelines with a medial ligament injury, but Erik Sviatchenko took his place beside Jozo Simunovic here at the heart of the backline, perhaps giving a pointer as to how their defence will shape up for the trip to Belfast.

There were clear signs of rustiness at the back straight away though, with a free header gifted to Rovers striker Sean Boyd, but Rodgers was delighted overall with how the backline performed.

“I thought it was an excellent exercise,” he said. “Another step up in our fitness. Really pleasing is how we defended. It’s key fundamentally to how we do things.

“You see the intensity and pressure from first minute to last. Front players defending forward gets the team up the pitch and the hunger to keep a clean sheet and get the ball was very evident. It was very concentrated. Sometimes you get to three, four (goals) and go flat.

“That’s not how we work. You earn your money by doing it through the 90 minutes. The players are at a good level. I’m very pleased.”

Goals from Mikael Lustig, two from Stuart Armstrong, one from Dembele, a double from Scott Sinclair and single strikes from James Forrest, Jonny Hayes and Tom Rogic put the sorry hosts to the sword, with a first Celtic goal for winger Hayes after replacing Forrest on the hour another pleasing aspect of the day from a Celtic point of view.

The winger celebrates his 30th birthday today, and he was delighted to celebrate the milestone in fine style.

“It was obviously nice to come home,” Hayes said. I had a lot of friends and family at the game, it’s 10 minutes from where I grew up.

“I was delighted to get on first and foremost, but then to score a goal was a nice feeling all round.

“After the game we went around and I was seeing people in every stand that I know and my phone is going mental.

“It’s obviously a proud moment, but you’ll take goals wherever you can. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pre-season friendly or a cup final, you’re always happy to chip in.

“Everyone has been so welcoming, the staff of the park, the players, the manager. To see how humble everyone is at the club and with the mind-set everyone has, it’s really easy to settle in.

“It’s been terrific and I’ve enjoyed it from the first day.”

The exciting displays of both Forrest in the opening hour and Hayes in the last half hour hinted that a friendly rivalry could be developing for that place on the right wing, and Hayes thinks it will help to push both players on.

“I played against James for a number of years and I knew how he good he is, and since I’ve come in he’s done well in training too,” he said. “He’s a top-class player.

“There’s competition for places and I knew what I was coming into. I knew I wasn’t going to be playing straight away, and that I as coming into a bigger squad.

“It’s up to me to try and break in.”

“It’s just another game and everywhere we go, trams are going to want to beat us. No matter who we play against, everyone looks forward to playing Celtic.

“It will be nice to get the competitive games back come Friday night.”