ALLEZ les Blues might not have been a cry that has been heard too often around Celtic Park, but when it comes to Glasgow remaining green and white, the influence of the club’s French contingent will be key this term.

Celtic will open the defence of their domestic authority on Saturday but first there is a second leg of a Uefa second-round Champions League

qualification tie to negotiate. It would be foolish to claim the game in Trondheim is a formality – a 3-1 first-leg lead once backfired against Basle in 2002 courtesy of the away goal rule – but it was the second-half form of Parisians Odsonne Edouard and Olivier Ntcham that ensured the tie would be a far more comfortable proposition than it might otherwise have been.

While keeping a grip of their sovereignty on home soil will be paramount, it is the Champions League that is crucial in maintaining their stranglehold in Glasgow, and not just because of the considerable riches it brings.

For players such as Moussa Dembele, Edouard and Ntcham, it is doubtful whether they would have ended up in Glasgow without the exposure that the access to Europe’s premier competition brings.

Dembele will miss Wednesday night’s game with a slight hamstring strain but he has shown the temperament required to rise to the occasion on the Champions League nights with Celtic. The early evidence suggests his compatriots will do likewise this season; Edouard’s impudent chip for the Parkhead side’s third goal on Wednesday evening highlighted the swagger with which the club’s £9 million summer signing has started life after a permanent deal at the club.

And while the performance of the 20-year-old had Rodgers purring, of equal significance was the contribution of Ntcham. His goal, just 45 seconds after the re-start, set the tone of the Parkhead side’s second-half display in which they battered the Norwegians – three efforts against the woodwork prevented a more commanding return – and Rodgers expects there to be still more to come from the 22-year-old who arrived at Celtic last summer with little first-team experience.

“Technically he is strong, physically you can see he is an athlete and mentally he is a boy who really devotes his life to his game,” said Rodgers. “He does his extra work and he is now understanding how to look after his body to play so many games. He is still not up to speed. He starts to tire after 70, 75 minutes which is natural. Like I say, he is a big, big talent and we wanted that when we were looking for that type of player. We wanted that power but also that technical ability and his goal was fantastic.”

Rodgers nursed Ntcham through his opening campaign at the club with the midfielder’s influence growing as the season progressed.

“He played 38 games for Genoa in two seasons,” Rodgers said. “You can’t then come in to a club like here with expectation and play three games a week. You can’t do it.

“I was playing him in one game. I was talking to him, nurturing him along, then it was two games a week and then to a point where he could have the strength and that quality to play three games in a week. It is just nurturing and developing and he is showing it now in the biggest games.

“If you look at the balance and our midfield three, we have a controlling, defensive player in Scott Brown, a passing midfield player in Ollie who can make a goal and has that power, and then we have an attacking midfield player in Callum McGregor or Tom Rogic. So the balance is good.”

It is a different kind of equilibrium that Celtic will seek to tap into as they prepare to mount a four-pronged assault on European and domestic football this season.

In terms of his domestic experience, Rodgers’ copybook is unblemished with back-to-back trebles ensuring his own chapter when it comes to the Celtic history books. There has been an expectancy that the appointment of his former Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, at Rangers may inject a fresh impetus in Rodgers but that doesn’t take account of the relentlessness of Rodgers’ own ambition.

The 45-year-old revealed that last summer he was just three days into a summer holiday before he began to fret about how to better the Invincible campaign, and that culture of incessant ambition is one that has become the hallmark of his squad. The chant that reverberates around Celtic Park calls for ten-in-a-row, but for Rodgers it is about winning the next one that is most important.

“For me, you always do your talking on the pitch,” he said. “Over pre-season we think we have done that. You see the players and the work-rate and the intensity and there is a real collective spirit there. There are maybe one or two who didn’t do so well who are coming back with a real appetite to do well.

“Odsonne coming in as a signed player is big because all the players see his quality and then we have players evolving and developing. So the hunger is there. I have brilliant staff. I have outstanding coaching staff that understand the philosophy and ideas of how we play. As a manager it is your job to lead but I am only young. I am only 45. I’m not tired.

“All our players are hungry to succeed. Domestically they have been brilliant these last two years. They have the hunger and this is an era where they can really put themselves in a really successful period. And the beauty and the exciting thing for me is that I can see it growing and developing all the time. From the manager down we never have a lazy day.

“It is intense, it is relentless with the work but the culture is in place now. So the players want to succeed, they want to win things and they want to get better. It is the biggest thing you can create. You need to have a vision in terms of where you see it all going. You need to have certain values in how you work and you have to bring in certain types, but number one is culture. You hear everyone saying about ten-in-a-row but for me and the players and the coaching staff it is eight-in-a-row. Forget the other two – go get the eighth."

Of note last week was James Forrest’s 71st European performance for the club with the winger re-energised in the last two seasons under Rodgers. Celtic captain Scott Brown recently said he thought Forrest was the most influential player at the club although his Continental record proved to be something that drew some teasing.

“I said to him before the game, how could you have played more than Billy McNeill?” smiled Rodgers. “Listen, to play this long at Celtic . . . I am so happy for him. He trains every day, he now sees the importance of training and improving. He looks after himself very well and is a really good guy.

“I always say he is one of the best players I have ever worked with in terms of taking the ball in a tight space and he is performing very consistently. It is brilliant to see and when you think he is what, 26, he has not even had his best years yet which is exciting for him and for Celtic.”