BRENDAN Rodgers can’t say for sure whether he will get a full 90 minutes out of Odsonne Edouard at Ibrox this afternoon. Still dogged by a hamstring problem, the Northern Irishman admitted last night that he was still weighing up whether it is wiser for his only recognised striker to start the match or finish it. Thankfully from Celtic’s point of view, though, his £9m Frenchman has already demonstrated a couple of times now that 20 minutes is more than enough for him to make mincemeat out of an opponent and wreak a devastating impact on a title race.

Forget midweek up at Pittodrie, where he climbed off the bench to clip in one fine goal with his left foot and have a hand in two others. And consider instead his last visit to the other side of Glasgow back in March. When he arrived on the pitch after 67 minutes, Celtic had their backs to the wall, down to ten men after the dismissal of Jozo Simunovic, the title race seemingly wide open. When he left it, his fine curling strike with his right foot this time had secured all three points and a victory so demoralising that Graeme Murty and his side never recovered. It is an interesting example to consider ahead of a match where Celtic are chasing their fifth win in a row at Ibrox – for the first time since 1909, a victory which could stretch their lead at the top of the division to six points with a game in hand.

Some supporters might criticise a skillset which isn’t identical to that boasted by the brawny Moussa Dembele, but no matter how long he is on the field on Saturday, don’t rule out a repeat performance from Edouard. The Dembele deal, bought for £500,000 and sold on two years later for £20m was a remarkable piece of business by anybody’s standards, but Rodgers feels Edouard is also quite a bargain.

“He’s a fantastic talent and, if he has gone off the boil and not been the player he can be in a couple of games, it’s nothing other than tiredness and the fact he’s also played with an injury, which is a result of us having only the one striker,” said Rodgers. “But you can’t deny the boy’s ability. He’s been questioned since he came here but I’ve always said what a huge talent he is. For us to get him for the money we did was a snip, really.

“Some of the things he does every day I find myself applauding due to the sheer quality he possesses. He also has a great footballing brain and technique for such a young player and he’s very strong – although he maybe doesn’t look it – but you can see the number of times he holds opponents off. He also gets goals. There have been games when I’ve wanted to take him out just to give him a breather but we haven’t been able to do that but you cannot deny his talent of his efficiency. I’m delighted to have him.”

Edouard and Dembele are, unquestionably, two different players on the pitch; two different characters off it. “He’s just a humble kid,” said Rodgers. “He doesn’t seek attention or affection, he just wants to be the best he can be. That’s why he’s here.

“He knows he’s a good player, it’s just different characters, different personalities,” Rodgers added. “Mouss was great, he had that inherent belief, but he [Edouard] is a different personality type. He’s team-orientated and he’s very driven in terms of what he wants to achieve. He came here, left Paris with virtually no English and took himself out of his comfort zone. For me, he’s been outstanding and is only going to get better.”

While Rodgers rails at the suggestion he requires a target man, his loan pursuit of Edouard’s former Paris St Germain academy graduate Timothy Weah suggests he feels the Frenchman could be even more effective with someone else alongside him. The case in point perhaps was less the bravura chip against Aberdeen, but the perfectly measured pass inside Andrew Considine for James Forrest’s run in the lead-up to Scott Sinclair’s second goal of the night at Pittodrie.

“People say we need a target man but why do they say that?” said Rodgers. “It’s not the way we play. We are a team which has mobility. We have strength up front, of course, but we’re more about penetration – we get in behind teams and stretch the game. If we could get a mobile big guy then great but guys like Odsonne and Mikey Johnston are guys that get you in there.

“That’s what I love about him. He’s not a big, stiff striker who just stands up there because that’s no use to us – we’re about speed and creativity and what I loved about him when I first saw him is his mobility and his ability to find space. He’s a game-changer. No question. He’s already shown that speed, that intelligence, that power at all the levels and the finishing. The question for us is do we start him knowing he probably can’t finish the game, or do we bring him into the game when space is opening up and there is a bit of natural tiredness which he can exploit. That’s the decision. Or do we play him with someone else.”