GARY Mackay-Steven hopes to follow in his friend Stuart Armstrong's slipstream and become the next forgotten fringe man to suddenly make himself indispensable to the Celtic cause.

The 26-year-old climbed off the bench at the Etihad on Tuesday night to make his first appearance for the Parkhead first team since April and his manager's midas touch continued with a half-hour cameo which displayed precisely what the winger has to offer.

Heavily linked with a loan move to his former side Ross County this August after undergoing ankle surgery this summer, Mackay-Steven had been widely thought to be on his way out at Parkhead.

But with James Forrest laid low with a hamstring problem and Scott Sinclair still a couple of games away from his return, Mackay-Steven is likely to find at least a further two match window against Partick Thistle and Hamilton Accies to press his claim for a Parkhead future.

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There is no better template for him to follow than Armstrong, the man alongside whom he joined from Dundee United on deadline day in 2015.

“The whole team has improved since the manager came in," said Mackay-Steven. "He’s been a breath of fresh air and everyone wants to work hard and show what they can do. That’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of the season.

“It’s been a hard time for my having a long term injury and having to watch from the sidelines," added the full Scotland international, who spent a couple of years at Anfield before Rodgers arrived there. "It’s not been nice watching the new manager coming in and everyone hitting the ground running, while you stuck having to watch on. But he’s been very positive with me. He told me I needed to be patient. Obviously I can’t complain too much when the team has been doing so well.

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“I want to be part of things here - I had no qualms whatsoever about leaving. In the few months he’s been here it’s just drilled it home how amazing a club this is. You saw it again on Tuesday when our fans outsung the City support all night. I want to be playing with a smile on my face and entertaining them. It’s exciting times at the club so that’s what I want to do for the rest of the season."

Things could have been even better for Mackay-Steven had he converted when Leigh Griffiths played him clean through or had Leigh Griffiths scored from his second half assist.

“I was absolutely delighted to play," said the 26-year-old. "It was my first appearance of the season and I was thrown right in at the shallow end. I was just thrilled to be back and to be contributing again. Hopefully it’s onwards and upwards. These are the games you want to be involved in, playing in the Champions League against massive teams. I’m just happy the hard work paid off.

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“It was frustrating I didn’t manage to score with the chance I got. The overwhelming feeling in the dressing room was of disappointment. We were unhappy with the draw as we felt we could have nicked it.It’s testimony to the team and how well everyone played. From the first game we’ve learned a lot in the Champions League. We are much stronger and better for being there.

“It’s about working hard in training and my fitness levels are getting better. It’s a case of just keep doing what I’m doing and there will be chances. We’ve got nine games in December so he’s told me I need to be ready."