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John Hartson calls for Celtic fringe star to be given cup final chance

By Will Butcher

John Hartson believes Patrick Roberts should start against Aberdeen in the Betfred Cup final.

The Manchester City loanee has found it tough to break into Brendan Rodgers starting XI, with the form of James Forrest and Scott Sinclair continuing to impress on the wings.

Writing in his Scottish Sun column, Hartson revealed that he wants to see Roberts start after Sinclair picked up a hamstring problem against Barcelona on Wednesday night.

“If he’s (Sinclair) hurt his hammy, then he has absolutely no chance of being fit,” Hartson claimed. “That being the case I’d like to see Patrick Roberts come into the team.

“He’s a player I like a lot but he’s crying out for a run. I know James Forrest is ahead of him in the pecking order but Roberts has always looked lively whenever he’s played.”

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The 19-year-old starlet has featured in 19 games for the Hoops this season, but 10 of those have come from the substitute’s bench.

Signed from Fulham, Roberts was loaned to Parkhead for 18 months after struggling to break into Manchester City’s first team.

If Hartson’s wish is granted, Roberts would start on the left of attack in a side that boasts stars such as Moussa Dembele, Scott Brown and Craig Gordon.

With former Liverpool boss Rodgers eyeing his first piece of silverware as manager, Celtic will be hoping to put the disappointment of their Champions League campaign behind them by lifting the Betfred Cup.

The 47-time Scottish Premiership champions have reached the final after wins against Alloa and Old Firm rivals Rangers, after beating the Gers 1-0 at Ibrox thanks to a Dembele winner.

A Celtic triumph would see Rodgers secure a 16th League Cup victory for his new side.

In other Celtic news, two senior players should be axed to face Aberdeen.