Given the company they keep, there will be little loneliness among Celtic’s long distance runners. Judging by their stats this season it could be marathon monikers that Kieran Tierney and James Forrest look to collect when the prizes are handed out in May but for Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers the duo’s stamina and endurance has marked them out as the club’s ironmen.

Stats emerged last week that showed Tierney, at 20, has played more game time (53 games so far) than any other professional in world football this season; his domestic and international colleague, Forrest, is second, just one behind.

“That’s what he is [ironman],” smiled Rodgers in reference to Tierney. “And there are boys like that - they don’t know what to do if you give them a rest. Some of the older ones, you give them a breather for the weekend, they head off to London or Paris or wherever. Tierney would go to the Celtic game. He’d come here, [Celtic Park] stand over in the corner. What I think is important in the modern game is pushing young players over the hill. Actually letting them feel a little bit when they suffer. So they’re not all ‘oh, you’re not feeling right? Then let’s cut it back.’ They might be a bit stiff, so flush it out and get on with it.”

There is some consternation that both players could have been exposed to too much football. That Forrest’s body has stood up to the rigours of so much game time, however, is something to be lauded after his difficulties in previous years.

Crucially, going the distance for Rodgers doesn’t always equate to ripping it up on the pitch. The Celtic manager’s reputation for extracting the same dedication at an empty Monday morning training ground is well known.

“He trains like a beast, and he plays like one,” said Rodgers of Tierney. “I demand all players train like they play and he definitely does. I always say to the players here when they sign a contract, you’re signing a training contract. I’ll decide whether you play or not. The money is in your bank every month but you’re to work and get better.

“The great thing with James is he’s getting better every day - his goals, his assists, his consistency. I can only judge on my time here and he’s virtually been available to me my entire time. Maybe we’ve had a couple of games when he hasn’t but no more than that. And that starts in training. He’s never had a day since I’ve been in here where he’ll throw it in.”

While Tierney and Forrest have remained prominent this term after impressing in Rodgers’ inaugural season last year, one player who has slipped into the background is Stuart Armstrong. The midfielder made a cameo appearance at Ibrox last weekend, his first game of the year after undergoing a hernia operation in January, but it remains to be seen if there is longevity in his time at the club.

Armstrong signed a one-year extension to his contract last August but his future is subject to discussion. He is one of a number of players who are entering into the final year of their deals but Rodgers is unperturbed.

“I just want to help Stuart become the best player he can be,” Rodgers said. He knows what he has here, he knows the opportunity he has here and I know he respects that. So I don’t tend to get bogged down too much with that. I have a strong relationship with him. I know what he thinks and we will just look to continue developing him.

“When I was younger I used to think it was personal, but it’s football. Players have short careers; of course, I’d love them to stay here but there are numerous reasons – on both sides as there could be issues with the club as well – that doesn’t allow them to sign.

“My job is to try to keep them and if they decide their future lies somewhere else, that’s fine. I just need to protect Celtic while also helping them as much as I can whilst they’re here.

“There are a few going into last year of contract – Tom [Rogic] and Dedryck Boyata too. Players are within their rights, if they feel the deal or the offer is not right or just purely if they don’t want to sign. Some are happy to see out their career at Celtic, playing for trophies with a huge club and have no interest in moving and will play 500 or 600 games – ie Callum McGregor, someone like that.

“You’ll get players who will see this as a two or three-year project; an opportunity to play for a huge club and be a winner, then move on. Then you have others who think they want to stay and then they get a big offer and they go and then the club tries to get maximum value.”

The narrative of this week has centred not just on the treatment on those in the public eye. Jamie Carragher’s situation is a distance away from the verbal abuse dished out to Scott Sinclair and Russell Martin but Rodgers has acknowledged the vagaries and the inevitable guarded response that comes from always having to watch your back.

“You can’t be free. That’s the simplicity of it,” he said. “You can’t go to certain places because you know the attention that it draws. To be honest, I never mind when people want a photo or a handshake or a wee word, because we’re in a privileged position. They love you because you manage the club, and I get all of that. It’s the one where somebody will say to you: ‘Can I have a photograph?’ and they’ll try to trick you into something, or they’re stood filming you, and there are two or three of them, trying to get a reaction. You don’t want to react, because then it’s in the public domain. That stuff – it’s definitely not on.”

More immediate is the visit to Fir Park this afternoon. A certain physicality will be expected in the game against Motherwell which Rodgers has no beef with.

“[Manager] Stephen’s [Robinson] done a great job with Motherwell,” said Rodgers. “All the games have been tough [against them.] It’s a tight ground and it will be a hard game.”