BRENDAN Rodgers, the Celtic manager, has questioned whether, Craig Levein, his counterpart at Hearts, was right to play teenage midfielder Harry Cochrane at Parkhead on Tuesday night.

Cochrane, who is just 16, suffered a bruised collarbone following a challenge by Scott Brown, the Celtic captain, in the first half of the Ladbrokes Premiership game.

Levein, whose side lost the game 3-1, yesterday called for“all players”to be given greater protection from Brown by referees.

But Rodgers defended his skipper and asked whether Levein should have played the diminutive youngster.

“Browny is a top player,” he said. “In my experience working with some of the very best players, they play on the limit in every game. That’s why he’s such a brilliant player for Celtic and Scotland.

“No matter who he plays against, whether they are 16 or 36, he is there to win. He was outstanding the other night.

“I don’t think there’s any question about Scott. Hearts committed more fouls than us the other night - 21-9 - so I don’t go along with that.

“You could argue or ask the question‘does a 16-year-old need to be in a game against a Champions League team at home?’ I think he can play in it, but it’s a question that may be asked. Can he handle it?

“I am sure Craig will look at that as well. For me, he looks a lad with good temperament. You get young players like that who it doesn’t matter if they are playing in front of 10 or 100,000.

“Does the duty of care lie with the manager? Yeah, absolutely. From a talent perspective I could probably put Karamoko Dembele in to the first team right now. But he’s coming up to 15.

“I have to think about where he is at in terms of his maturation level. Not just his talent level.

“If you put a 16-year-old in against the champions at home, who play with an aggression like we do, then you know as a manager what’s coming.”

Cochrane, who scored for Hearts in the 4-0 win over Celtic at Tynecastle in December, will miss his side’s league match with St. Johnstone at home this weekend.

Asked if Cochrane should have received greater protection from the match official, Levein said: “Yes, of course. I think everybody should get a bit more protection from Scott Brown really. But we will see.

“I was annoyed about that. I watched it back and I think Scott had decided after the game at Tynecastle, when Harry bossed him, he wasn’t going to let that happen.

“I’ve known Scott for a long time and he is aggressive in the way he plays.”