Jonny Hayes’ performance against Rangers was as solid as you would expect, but the winger has stated that he wasn’t even 100% fit.

Hayes was one of the players who really took some responsibility in the first 45 at Hampden Park. He got on the ball and tried to look for something to hit in the Rangers half. When he wasn’t doing that, he was trying to bomb forward and provide some width down the left.

Jonny Hayes got stuck in against Rangers at Hampden yesterday (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

He can be proud of his display after not featuring in any of Celtic’s last three matches. A knee injury ruled him out of the games against Rennes, Ross County, and Hamilton Accies respectively (Transfermarkt).

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When he was selected, many would’ve believed it was because he was fit and raring to go. However, speaking to BT Sport post-match, Hayes admitted that he wasn’t feeling 100% prior to kick-off:

“Not really, no (when asked if he was feeling 100%). But it’s a cup final playing for Celtic. You patch yourself up, get yourself ready and get on with the job.

 

“It’s just part and parcel of football. I was never going to turn down the opportunity to play. It comes down to mentality at the end of the day. There’s a winning mentality here.”

Hayes did all he could yesterday in a positive return

You wouldn’t have known that Hayes wasn’t 100% fit yesterday. Everything he did was done with commitment and energy. He was one of the only players that tried to take some responsibility in the first half, and deserves more credit than he’s likely to get.

Hayes played through the pain barrier yesterday (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

It doesn’t seem logical to play him against Cluj on Thursday night if he’s still feeling the effects of any injury knocks either. That game is as meaningless a fixture as we’re going to have between now and the end of December. With Greg Taylor available for selection, he could easily slot in.

It’s now easy to see, however, just why Hayes is so popular with the manager. He didn’t hide from any crunching challenges, and was always looking to get at James Tavernier when he could.

After hearing Hayes’ interview, here’s hoping he didn’t come out of the game with any bruises. He seemed to be in both good spirits and good shape, and he now deserves a rest before next weekend’s visit of Hibs.

Neil Lennon’s faith in Jonny Hayes was well placed (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Of course, another real positive that went unnoticed yesterday was the return of Boli Bolingoli. Whilst he didn’t manage to come on at any stage, his return to availability gives us some much-needed depth at left-back.

Building up his and Hayes’ fitness levels will now be key in the coming weeks. However, yesterday’s win is all the sweeter knowing that our back-up left-back wasn’t even 100% fit.

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