CELTIC manager Brendan Rodgers has praised Irishman Jonny Hayes after he helped the club to a 5-0 win over St Johnstone.
The Dubliner started at left back against the Saints and made a fantastic run to set up James Forrest’s goal as Celtic set a new record of 24 consecutive victories in domestic cup ties.
A Scott Brown stunner and a hat-trick from Scott Sinclair completed the rout as Celtic broke the record set by Walter Smith’s Rangers between 1992 and 1994.
Today’s match was only Hayes’ fourth start of the season however Rodgers described his performance as ‘outstanding’.
“Scotty [Sinclair] ended up getting his hat-trick, Oliver Burke showing his pace, strength and power up front and Jonny Hayes was outstanding,” Rodgers told Celtic TV.
“He hasn’t played a lot, but he steps in and lasts the game very well, so it was very pleasing.”
Hayes initially struggled to nail down a first team place after arriving from Aberdeen at the start of last season for £1million.
🗣️BR: "Scott Sinclair is one of the few players who can keep up with Ollie Burke. That’s what he does, he’s a goal-scorer. Guys like Johnny Hayes, too, they aren’t playing as much, but he was great and he defended well. That’s testament to how professional he is."
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) 10 February 2019
After finally getting a run of games and notching his first goal for the club, a broken leg in the 2017 St Stephen’s Day clash with Dundee ended his season.
Hayes started the first two Scottish Premiership games this term but did not appear in another domestic game until December.
The form of Ryan Christie and the arrival of Burke in January looked to have limited his options further amid speculation of a move in the transfer window.
However an injury to Emilio Izaguirre – himself covering for the injured Kieran Tierney – against Hibs on Wednesday has opened the door for the Irishman.
With Celtic facing a busy schedule over the coming months as they compete on three fronts, Hayes could finally seize his chance to impress in Glasgow.
Celtic fans praised the Irishman for his display against the Saints today and for his attitude while he has bided his tim on the sidelines.
Celtic were perfect today. Absolutely perfect back to front. Round of applause to Jonny Hayes for a great shift as makeshift left back. More than adequate for this level, Valencia will be very different but ‘tis certainly better than putting CalMac there. #CELSTJ #CELTIC
— Dominik Diamond (@DominikDiamond) 10 February 2019
Johnny Hayes... A star player when he played with Aberdeen and would be guaranteed to start anywhere in the SPFL but Celtic.
Sits for weeks and months on the sidelines.. Doesn't complain.. Sweats blood when Celtic call upon him.
That's serious commitment!!!!
— Celtic Nation (@CelticNation67) 10 February 2019
Jonny Hayes deserved a goal today. Played brilliant. What a game. YAAAAS CELTIC.
— Carolyn 🍀 (@CazzerzCFC) 10 February 2019
Phenomenal to a man. Brown, Sinclair and Burke outstanding. Jonny Hayes had a stormer. Bain with yet another clean sheet. 24 cup wins on the bounce - unreal professionalism.
— Kieran Caw (@Kieran_Celtic) 10 February 2019
Thought Hayes did a great job today 🍀
— celtic jaime 🍀 (@jaimelawson08) 10 February 2019
Think a lot of Celtic fans don't rate Johnny hayes.. I've yet to see him not give 100% commitment every game....
— Just Joe (@Jakey_Joe) 10 February 2019