ALISTAIR Johnston has suggested that Liam Scales’ deep pride at playing for Celtic has been partially responsible for the Irish centre-half’s outstanding form since being promoted to the Parkhead first team this season.

Scales, who was named Man of the Match after the 1-0 cinch Premiership triumph over Rangers at Ibrox earlier this month, was excellent once again in the Champions League match against Feyenoord in Rotterdam on Tuesday night.

The Scottish champions, who had Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Thiago Holm sent off in the second half of the Group E match in De Kuip, lost 2-0 to their Dutch rivals at the end of the 90 minutes.

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However, the Irish defender enhanced his burgeoning reputation further with his assured individual display.

Johnston predicted the imminent return of vice-captain Cameron Carter-Vickers, who manager Brendan Rodgers is hoping will be available again next month, from injury will help Celtic in their bid to reach the knockout rounds of Europe’s premier club competition.

However, the Canadian right back confessed he has been taken aback by how well Scales, who spent last term at Aberdeen and was set to go out on loan again before the treble winners suffered an injury crisis, has acquitted himself.

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“We have guys like CCV and kind of the big names who have been mainstays in this team the past couple of years and also in our treble campaign coming back. That’s something that definitely gives us confidence, especially going into the rest of these games.

“But, at the same time, the guys who have stepped up have done well. I think Liam Scales has been unbelievable since coming into this role. A lot of people probably felt they’d never see him in a Celtic kit again.

“He’s been one who has just taken it and grabbed it with both hands and hasn’t let it go. Arguably, he’s been our best player these past couple of matches. That’s been really impressive seeing it as a player on the pitch, just seeing the confidence he plays with.”

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Johnston added: “I wouldn’t have seen him before (the former Montreal Imps player was only signed by Celtic in January). But I knew what he’d done at Aberdeen the previous year.

“I’ve been blown away with his composure on the ball. He’s been better on the ball than I could’ve imagined. No matter what’s going on in the match, he’s composed on the ball, finding his passes and that’s something I’m really impressed with.

“He’s also one of those guys who hasn’t shied away from the moment. He throws his body about, gets in there and he loves a tackle as well. He’s one of those guys who plays for the badge and you never knock that.”