JOHN COLLINS today told the media that Celtic were pleased at Aberdeen suffering a 3-1 defeat own Monday evening against Celtic’s weekend opponents Inverness Caley Thistle.
The Celtic assistant manager looked back on that result and ahead to Saturday’s match earlier today. “From our point of view, it was a pleasing result,” observed Collins, adding that “Inverness is never an easy place to go.”
Collins is great friends with the Caley manager John Hughes with the two having played together for Tommy Burns’ Celtic side in the 1990s. Collins clearly has a great respect for the Inverness manager who led his side to their first ever Scottish Cup win last season after controversially beating Celtic in the semi-final.
“Yogi’s teams are always set up to be hard to beat. Aberdeen were flying but it’s not an easy to go and pick up three points,” Collins said, with the hint of a little smile on his face.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s match Collins is under no illusions on just how tough a task it will be for Celtic to do what Aberdeen couldn’t and take three points against Inverness. “They will be full of confidence and looking forward to the game. They always give us a tough game,” observed Collins.
“They are organised, fit, hardworking & pass the ball, and you always have to work hard to get a victory against them.”
Celtic’s injury worries are easing as the season reaches its business end. Celtic are now down to just two players from what is a very big squad, currently sidelined.
“We have nearly everyone fit. We only have two players out at the moment, Jozo and Jako,” said Collins.
“Jozo will probably be another four or five weeks and Janko will start training with the football next week.”
The Assistant manager accepted that it is something of a challenge keeping fit players happy while on the sidelines.
“It’s always a challenge but better having too many good players,”admitted Collins.
“There is lots of competition for places and we are seeing the benefits in training as everyone is desperate to get into the team.
And some players will be increasingly aware that they are fighting for their futures at Celtic as the squad is likely to reduce in size in the summer.
“Come end of the season, there will be players who’ll move out but just now everyone fighting for a jersey, good problem to have,” said Collins.
One player who will definitely be at Celtic next season is Patrick Roberts, who Ronny Deila stand earlier in the week that he’s more likely to make his impact on the Celtic first team next season. That was before another stunning display from the Manchester City loanee in the Development Squad this week.
Collins maybe suggested that we might see Roberts sooner than initially anticipated as the player improves on his fitness levels: “He’s closer this week than last week. Had another week’s training under his belt. He’s trained very well and he played terrificly well for the Dev. Squad, scoring a couple of goals and made one.”
Another player for next season, joining Ronny’s Quality Street Gang, is our new signing Kristoffer Ajer.
Collins was clearly impressed by the teenager: “He came in for a week’s training and did very well. At 17, he came onto the training field with the first-team boys and fitted in well – calm on the ball, showed a lot of composure.
“He is a good football player. He will have to come in and prove himself, like every player.”
Collins also gave his opinion on decision to move the Scottish League Cup Final to the end of November next season and on the talk of an Atlantic League emerging.
On Scottish League Cup final date change the Celtic assistant boss commented; “It doesn’t bother me one way or the other to be honest.”
“For clubs in Europe it’s a busy time of year, but if you are busy and in lots of competitions, then it’s a good sign.”
On the Atlantic League rumours Collins had this to say: “This is Something that’s been discussed many times, but just now we are focused on the Scottish league.”
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