NINE months ago, Greg Taylor went on as an 89th substitute for Liam Scales as Celtic toiled against St Mirren in Paisley.
The left-back is a certain starter when the champions return to take on the same opponents at the same venue tomorrow for the midday kick-off.
That simple statement shows how far the players and team have travelled in such a short space of time.
On December 22, the Hoops failed to break down a stubborn opposition defence in a disappointing scoreless stalemate and dropped six points off the pace at the Premiership pinnacle.
BIG SHOT…Greg Taylor fires in a left-foot drive in Celtic’s 2-1 win in the Premier Sports League Cup Final over Hibs at Hampden on December 19 last year.
Irish international Scales, who had joined the club from Shamrock Rovers for £600,000 in the summer, started the game before Taylor’s late introduction as Ange Postecoglou searched in vain to find a winner.
Tomorrow, Celtic will be league leaders when they turn up to take on Stephen Robinson’s side, Taylor will be in the No.3 slot while Scales is spending the season on loan at Aberdeen.
Changed days and Taylor, who was has been named in Scotland’s UEFA Nations League squad for the upcoming triple-header against the Republic of Ireland and Ukraine, has just performed in the Champions League encounters against Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk.
The 24-year-old former Kilmarnock defender said: “All of us are aiming to improve every game, every session, and playing at the top level is hopefully going to accelerate that process because you are up against the best.
ON THE RUN…Greg Taylor joins in another Celtic attack against Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw in midweek.
“It is the best club competition that you can compete at so we know we need to be right at it for every game.
“As a team we are in a good place, domestically really strong and in Europe the performances have been there. With the next four games we have got in the Champions League, we aim to turn those performances into a few more positive results.
“We know it’s a real high level, but it’s a level this club should compete on and I think it’s a level that this team can compete on. We have four more opportunities to show that we belong there.”
On the international front, Taylor could get the nod from Steve Clarke to take over from injured skipper Andy Robertson for the Euro ties this month.
THUMB’S UP…Greg Taylor after the 1-1 draw with Poland in the friendly at Hampden in March this year.
Taylor, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “Andy is obviously playing at the highest of levels with Liverpool and a top player and top captain, so it’s difficult to get opportunities for me.
“But if the manager decides I am deserving of one it will be a massive honour, as it was the other seven times.
“We have got a big game Sunday first, all focus is on that. If you are performing well for your club then international recognition takes care of itself. I am focused on Sunday to try and put on our best performance of the season and then focus on international football after.
“Every game is an opportunity to get better, the manager stresses that every day, and we know at a club this size that you have to perform every game.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Champions League, Cup, league, there is no chance that you can’t give 100 per cent every game.”