BRENDAN Rodgers has defended striker Odsonne Edouard after he drew a blank against Rosenborg on Thursday night to go five games without a goal, calling him "top class".

Leigh Griffiths climbed off the bench to replace the young Frenchman and grabbed a crucial 87th-minute winner in the opening match of the Europa League group stage, reigniting the debate over who should get the nod to lead the line for the champions.

But while Edouard had an off-night against the Norwegians, Rodgers has supported his frontman, saying that the downturn in goals scored by Celtic is a collective failing of the team rather than laying the blame at the door of his £9-million man.

“He’s top class,” Rodgers said. “He’s more than just good. He’s a top-class player. For his age, one of the best I’ve ever worked with. He can do everything.

“He's a different type to Moussa [Dembele], different type to Leigh - he’s a player who can play with any top striker.

“I just think it’s the offensive side of our game as a whole, from back to front. It's something we need to improve.

“He’s working hard but confidence is a big thing for players. The only way you have that confidence and success is by your hard work, so the players are working really hard. And as the season goes on, we’ll get better, and he’ll get better.”

Rodgers concedes that perceptions of Edouard’s performances may be coloured by the fact he has a tough act to follow in the now departed Dembele.

“Maybe - I don't see him as that,” he said. “It was never the idea. He’s a different type of striker.

“For us, it’s our whole team. Collectively we’re not attacking at the same level. We’re defending strongly, but we have to continue to work and improve our combinations and our dynamic at the top of the field.

“It comes from winning, and it comes from confidence. There’s no magic formula.

“We’re into our third season together so as you can see, teams are sitting even deeper against us, blocking out the spaces. Teams find a way to play against you and you then have to find the solutions for that. It's a mixture of everything but it’s not just a click of the fingers.”

Edouard has hardly been alone in struggling to hit the heights over Celtic’s last two fixtures in particular, with Olivier Ntcham also struggling as he followed up his dismissal at St Mirren with a ragged showing against Rosenborg.

That has prompted theories of unrest from the French duo now compatriot Dembele has moved on to pastures new, theories that Rodgers was keen to shoot down.

“There’s nothing in that,” he said. “I have to make sure all the players are OK. I always speak to all of them. There’s no issue.”

Rodgers is anticipating a similar task today at Rugby Park as his team had at Celtic Park during the week, being forced to come up with a solution to a deep-lying side who are set up first and foremost to stop his men playing.

“It’s a tough game - very tough,” he said. “They defend well, they’re very organised, sit deep, block the space then get some of their quick players on the counter- attack. So we’ll have to recover well and get ready for them.

“I'd expect Kilmarnock to get some intensity in the game, especially early, with us having played on Thursday, but we’ve coped with that in the past couple of years. We’ll be fresh and trying to win.”