Kristoffer Ajer could be set to keep his place for Saturday’s game against Rangers as Celtic bring down the curtain on 2017.

The Norwegian teenager, who was brought to the club by his countryman Ronny Deila, has impressed in recent outings against Aberdeen and Dundee.

Indeed, as Celtic have kept three successive clean sheets following on from their shock defeat at Tynecastle, Ajer’s stock appears to have risen considerably.

The towering 19-year-old has developed since his arrival at Celtic with a loan spell at Kilmarnock in the latter half of the last campaign while the player himself believes he has also improved with the exposure to playing alongside full internationals at Lennoxtown.

“I feel really confident,” the teenager told Celtic TV. “I know how the gaffer wants us to play and that gives me the confidence to do what I do.

“We are a top squad who is working hard and pushing each other. I have learned so much from the centre-halves in the 18 months I have been here. I have learned so much in training and I am trying to learn as much as possible.”

Certainly, his recent performances have not gone unnoticed by Brendan Rodgers.

With Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata looking uneasy together in recent outings, Ajer appears to have offered some poise at the heart of the Celtic defence.

The main question now will be whether Rodgers, who has shown previously, that he is willing to hand a jersey to players regardless of age if he believes they are up to it, opts to go with the youngster or whether he reverts to experience.

His post-match observations following on from the Boxing Day win would appear to give further currency to theory that Ajer could find himself lignin up against Rangers this weekend.

“I thought he was outstanding,” said Rodgers. “You can really clearly see the development in him. Defensively, he is winning his headers which is important for a centre-half, especially when you put pressure on the team, the opponent.

“They kick long balls and you have got to have someone who can go and dominate. And at 6 foot 5 he is starting to do that now. You can see him growing in stature and the physicality of the game. His positioning is good and he is up, he is alert, he is squeezing the pitch – he is never going for a sleep. “And then he has the pace if anything goes behind to deal with it.

“With his experience in midfield and his comfort on the ball is very clear. He has this wonderful ability to carry the ball and make his way through the team. I thought he was very good [against Dundee.]”

Signed by Deila in the January transfer window in 2016 on a pre-contract agreement, Ajer remained in Norway with IK Start. He returned to Celtic just as Deila departed and Rodgers arrived and his chance of first-team football have been fairly limited.

After an impressive showing with the Norwegian under-21 side last month with wins over Germany and Ireland, Ajer had revealed that he was open to another loan move in the forthcoming transfer window in order to further his development.

However, with the door to the first-team open again, it could be that the player finds himself clocking up more minutes in the second half of the campaign.

“It feels really good to get a chance,” he said. “I need to perform every single game. There are a lot of centre-halves and I just want to work hard and perform well when I get the chance.

“The fans, you see them every game, they are unbelievable. It is a huge honour for me to play in front of them and to play for Celtic.”

The player, too has stressed that he will be unfazed if he is handed a starting jersey for Saturday’s game against Rangers.

2017 has been successful in a way few could have envisaged for Celtic, with the club losing just one domestic game as they have dominated under Rodgers.

They will sign off on Saturday for a three-week break but will look to do so with another three points on the board. In fairness, much of the tension of Saturday’s game is removed, in a football sense at least, by the fact there is such a chasm between the teams in the league but it will not stop the Parkhead side from wanting to bow out on a high with a win.

And Ajer has insisted that he is ready and willing should he find himself called upon.

“We are ready for that one,” said the defender. “It is a big game to end 2017 and we are really looking forward to that one.”