John Hartson wants to see Nat Phillips earn his first minutes in the colours of Celtic ahead of domestic football returning this weekend. 

Many expected the Liverpool loanee to start the Glasgow derby against Rangers before the international break, but Brendan Rodgers stuck with Liam Scales and new boy Gustaf Lagerbielke.

And in truth, apart from that one moment with Lagerbielke, this weakened and injury-hit Celtic backline proved its worth against an expensively-assembled and strong Rangers side. 

Bhoys legend Hartson acknowledges that Scales has impressed him whilst he has covered for the likes of Cameron Carter-Vickers, as he told Go Radio.

But he would still like to see Nat Phillips, 26, handed his first start when Celtic prepare for the visit of Dundee on Saturday. 

Given that the Rangers game is out of the way, things should start running a lot smoother now, with Hartson sharing his thoughts.

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Phillips to start v Dundee

“I think Phillips will come in,” said Hartson. “I think he plays alongside Lagerbielke. Although, I was really impressed with Liam Scales against Rangers.

“I just think, you are paying a lot of money for Phillips. He was down at Liverpool, he is on-loan, get him into the team if he’s fit. 

“He would have had a couple of weeks of training. He may well go Lagerbielke and Scales. He might go with the same back four. I just think Phillips might come in.”

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Harsh on Scales, but Phillips needs to start

In truth, it could be argued that Scales has outperformed Lagerbielke during their small time on the pitch.

But the Sweden star wasn’t brought in to warm the bench, and neither was Phillips.

It could be argued that, on paper, Phillips is now Celtic’s best centre-back, even ahead of Carter-Vickers.

Yes, the former Tottenham man has proven to be the leader at the back for the Celt and the best defender in Scotland, but Phillips’ performances in the Premier League and Champions League for Liverpool are far better than what Carter-Vickers produced in England.

Therefore, you are hoping he can transcend that into Celtic colours, but then again, just ask a certain Shane Duffy, that’s not always the case.

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