MOUSSA Dembele did everything against Aberdeen apart from score a goal.

And his manager was more than happy with what he saw.

If the striker scored today against Dundee but did little else at Dens Park, then he might well be dropped for the Rangers game.

That's how it works at Brendan Rodgers's Celtic.

This time last season, Dembele was being quoted as a £30m player and given how the English transfer market operates these days, that figure seemed about right.

However, the Frenchman has not been quite himself this season. He’s scored only eight goals, has missed a lot of games and the sharpness of a year ago has been largely absent.

So, is Rodgers worried that his player has not scored as many this time around?

Not a bit of it, and Dembele’s performance in the 3-0 win over Aberdeen is the reason why Celtic’s manager is satisfied with the 21-year-old.

Dembele harried and pressed Aberdeen until he could run no more. He closed down defenders, forcing them into getting rid of the ball, and never once stopped working.

And that, more than hat-tricks against Rangers, is what Rodgers wants to see from whoever he plays in the No9 role.

Rodgers said: “Yes, Moussa worked really hard against Aberdeen but that is what he’s asked to do.

"It doesn’t worry me about how many goals the strikers get. It’s no use to me if I’ve got one who scores 50 goals and the rest of the team doesn’t function.

"I said that when I first came in.

“If you play in this team, you have to be able to press from the front, you must be able to read the game defensively. Once you do that then you’ll get an opportunity to play. If you don’t there will be someone else getting that opportunity.

“I have three good strikers who understand that now and I think young Odsonne Edouard coming in has open up the eyes of Moussa and Leigh (Griffiths) even more.

"Like I say, it’s about the team and the three guys understand that.

“A striker will always want goals and game. But, for me, it doesn’t matter. We have built a team here to score from every area on the field, but there is a demand on that central striker.

“Modern day football is not just about just standing there and scoring goals; you’ve got to participate. But the players know that. There is no change from when we first came in.

"What we have said that to be a top team you have to do more than just match the other team’s energy.

"You have to play the game with a technical and tactical intelligence in order to then play the game better.”

It is this philosophy more than anything else which has made Rodgers’s Celtic the success they are.

Sure, he has plenty of talent to call upon, but if they don’t put in a shift then they won’t play. It’s as simple as that.

Scott Sinclair has not been as good this season, although he does have 15 goals and 12 assists, but he will never be dropped because of his work ethic.

Against Aberdeen, a match in which he wasn’t great, several times he chased and won lost causes, one of them led to the second goal which Jonny Hayes scored, and there were plenty of occasions when it was the Englishman back to make a block.

Celtic, of course, have better players than every other team in the Premiership. Indeed, there are fringe players who would walk into the Aberdeen, Celtic and Hibs sides right now.

But Rodgers has instilled in them a work ethic that has seen them lost just once in 72 domestic matches. He had them on Christmas Day to train.

The Celtic boss said: “You have to work. It’s not rocket science. You could easily let them go home, but you have to earn your money. There is a price to pay. If you want success and to be consistent, then you must work.

“So we will train at 5.30pm on Christmas Day, and then we’ll drive up to Dundee and stay in a hotel. It’s a privileged life but you have to make sacrifices.

“It’s been a really good year. There are things we can build on and improve on. Thankfully, we have a group of players who have bought into that.

"They have the hunger, we never let then have a lazy day, and the mentality is engrained in them. They have to fight, work and improve.”

"There are two more games to and then the players get their deserved break.”