Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has told critics of the club that the time to judge the Parkhead side is at the end of the season.

It has been a staccato start to the campaign for Celtic, highlighted by the Europa League defeat to Salzburg on Thursday evening in Austria. The 3-1 defeat came on the back of a summer in which Celtic failed to qualify for a third successive stint in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League while the retention of their domestic status has slipped with two defeats already this term to Hearts and Kilmarnock.

Rodgers, though, has maintained that it is too early to suggest that the foundations which were set in his opening two seasons at the club are unravelling.

“We’re in early October,” said Rodgers. “There’s no message. We’ll continue to work. If there’s any message then it’s “judge us in May.”

“There’s nobody panicking in here. We lost a game against a better team. They were the best team so just focus on our next game and stay calm.”

And the Celtic manager also maintained that there is no additional pressure going into Sunday’s game against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park following the defeat.

“It is always important, whether you are top, second, third, fourth or whatever,” said the Celtic manager. “It is very early but you don’t want the gap to get too big. You just focus on your next game.

“It is another tough challenge for us physically and technically but we have been used to it over the last couple of years. What this squad have been brilliant at is that ability to then go again. That is purely because they are honest. We always want to be better and we come together to find a way to go again. Sunday will be no difference.”

Of more pressing concern might be the fact that Celtic have not scored more than one goal in a game since they defeated Suduva at the end of August; indeed in their seven games since they have scored just six goals, indicative of the lack of creative spark within the team.

And Rodgers believes that can be partly attributed to the players who left the club during the summer.

“When you lose the players that we have then of course it will make a difference. It is not just Moussa [Dembele], there is a collective – there is Stuart Armstrong’s goals and his running ability and we had Paddy Roberts leaving as well. But we have to continue to work. The players that are here work tirelessly every day and put a lot into it. We have to look to find the answers.

“That is what you are always looking at. How can we be better? How can we be more creative? We have to maximise everything we can in order to do that. Sometimes that is on the training field, sometimes it is a chat in the office, sometimes it is looking at a video and an analysis. We are continually working with the players. In the last couple of games I think there were signs of that [confidence] but we need to put that on the scoreboard.”

Scott Brown will be out until after the international break but Tom Rogic and Filip Benkovic joined in training yesterday and could be in line for a return against St Johnstone on Sunday.

“If they come through the session today and tomorrow they’ll be ok for the weekend,” said Rodgers.