SHOOT for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars. It may sound like the sort of sickly-sweet motivational quote you might find on your Auntie’s Facebook page, but it also aptly sums up Scott Sinclair’s contribution for Celtic last season.

Having bagged 25 goals and swept the awards in his debut season in Scottish football, the attacker’s sparkling form tailed off. He still finished top scorer for the club on 18 goals, but he clearly wasn’t playing to the imperious standard that he had during the previous campaign. At one stage he went 15 games without a goal, and as the season progressed, he even found himself among the substitutes with a frequency that would have been unthinkable 12 months previously.

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It was long before then that his manager noticed something was not quite right with one of his star men; on the first day of pre-season training, in fact. He looked jaded after playing 50 games the season before, and wasn’t accustomed to the quick turnaround that Celtic’s growing challenge to make the Champions League group stages inflicts upon them each summer.

Now though, Rodgers says that he can see the hunger has returned once more to Sinclair’s game. Here in Austria, he looks fitter, sharper and fresher than he did at any point during the last year.

“Scott Sinclair was our top goalscorer last year and he wasn’t even in the team every week,” Rodgers said. 

“He has come back super hungry and you can see the difference in Scott. The first two weeks he has come back the Scott Sinclair I have known from Chelsea, Swansea and the one I brought here in the first year.

“It was the first time in his career where he never really had a break. I felt in the first day of pre-season that he didn’t look fresh. Then you have to go in and play in the games and we are the sort of team where we need our players with big energy. If you don’t have that then it is tough and it stands out. 

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“He reflected on that because I spoke to him at the end of last season, in the week leading up to the Scottish Cup final, in terms of what he had to get back to. We told him to clear his mind again because he had set such high standards in his first season.

“He still did very well last season and he wants to get back to the level he was and we know he can play at. He stood out like a sore thumb how good he was in that first season. How quick, fast and dynamic he was.”

Rodgers wasn’t surprised to see the trend of players tailing off after a tremendous season continuing in Sinclair, but he thinks that it could well be the equivalent of signing a £10million player should he manage to get back to the heights of his debut term.

“We can see there is now a different dynamic and hunger to his game,” he said. 

“It is natural – how many times have we seen it? Stefan Johansen won all the awards here and the following season it didn’t really happen for him.  It is tough, and natural, but he will be okay this year.”

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Sinclair’s regression was part of an overall return to the mean for Celtic last season after the incredible heights they reached during their ‘Invincibles’ campaign, and while Rodgers points out that his side still won the treble, he will be looking for improvement.

“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “We set out to win the league, the League Cup and the Scottish Cup and we did that. It is almost as if, now, it is just deemed to be a treble, and now it is just the double treble and people have asked, ‘why was the team not so good?’

 “I’m really not bothered. We set out to improve and we’ll look to do exactly the same this year.

“Of course, we want to win as many points as we possibly can, and we certainly dropped too many points at home in draws last season. So that’s one we need to look at. And we didn’t score as many goals. I think our goals tally was 106 to 73. And there were many reasons for that, not just us. But we did okay.

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“I felt that after the first invincible treble year, when we came back in there was maybe a sense of ‘right ok, what an incredible season, can we do it again?’ Well, we won the treble again.

“I now see a difference in them when they’ve come back in this year, there’s an authority and an aggression there and a real focus and belief that we can do it again.”

Rodgers also gave an update on the future of 37-year-old goalkeeper Dorus De Vries, who has slipped down the pecking order behind the likes of Scott Bain and Conor Hazard as he enters the final year of his contract.

“Him and I have spoken about his situation,” Rodgers said. “There are other goalkeepers ahead of him just now. He will still be in and around it with his experience and helping some of the top class younger keepers we have coming through. 

“We have Scott Bain coming in behind Craig and young Conor Hazard, who is a real big prospect, along Ross Doohan. Dorus can come in and help and support that. 

“Dorus is a good guy. He was brought in for a purpose and he has served that purpose.”