BRENDAN RODGERS praised his brain box Bhoys as Celtic turned in a clever showing to record their first win under their new boss.

A Ryan Christie strike proved the difference between the Scottish champions and hosts Sturm Graz at the Merkur Arena yesterday afternoon in a composed showing from the Parkhead outfit.

Rodgers has spoken at length about wanting his players to ‘think’ about how they are playing, and he was delighted with the application of his Hoops as they flexed their footballing brains in Austria.

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When asked if his team are being asked to think more, he said: “I’m not sure, I think you’d need to ask them. But I’m pretty sure their brains will be sore!Evening Times: Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers calls the shots

“If you want to be the best player you can be – and we’re not just talking Scotland, we’re talking beyond – then you’ve got to be a thinker.

“You’ve got to think about the game, think of every element of football.

“You play the game with your brain. I like players to have that intelligence to problem solve. That’s important.”

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Rodgers played two separate teams in Graz yesterday and it was clear that all of his players are buying into the Parkhead picture he is trying to paint.

Several of last season’s fringe stars played a starring role here, and the Celtic boss is encouraged with what he has seen from the likes of Nadir Ciftci and Saidy Janko, who both played in yesterday’s first half.

"I was really pleased. I thought the first half was great,” said Rodgers. "We have spoken a lot about our defensive organisation and we pressed very well.

“Nadir Ciftci did well up front, we pressed well in midfield and on the sides. As soon as we scored, we won the ball back and almost scored again – catching them by surprise.Evening Times: 30/06/16 PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY .  NK CELJE v CELTIC .  ARENA PETROL STADIUM - SLOVENIA .  Celtic's Nadir Ciftci celebrates after pulling a goal back for the visitors.

“There were large elements of the first half that I was really pleased with. The grass was a bit long and it was difficult to pass it, but we still did well on that front.

“Saidy was excellent at right back. He’s been out a long time and he was like a train on that side – he was solid.

“We have been talking about having 11 players in the team but having one brain.

“We want to defend together and attack together – and it was another step forward.”

Two men who featured in the 2-2 draw with Celje missed out yesterday. Tom Rogic was rested as a precaution while James Forrest is beginning to show signs of improvement after a virus floored him at the team hotel in Maribor.

“James has been ill, he’s had a virus,” said Rodgers. “So he’s actually been imprisoned in his room for a few days, which is unfortunate.

“Hopefully he will pick up now that the doctor has been to see him.

“Tom, it’s just precautionary. He’s worked very hard but coming back from that groin problem, you don’t take chances.”