DEDRYCK BOYATA is a Bhoy on a double mission as he prepares to lock out Stjarnan’s strikers in Iceland tomorrow night.
Celtic’s new central defender from Manchester City is hoping success in the Champions League will attract the attention of Belgian international boss Marc Wilmots.
First, though, he intends to make absolutely certain there are no slip-ups as the Hoops defend last week’s 2-0 advantage where the centre-half notched the opening goal and Stefan Johansen slid in a classy second.
Boyata has quickly settled into the defence and such has been his early displays for Ronny Deila’s side that Jason Denayer’s absence after he returned to Manchester City this summer has scarcely been noticed.
The popular Denayer did so well during his season-long loan at Parkhead that he earned his first full cap for Belgium. And Boyata, who has made only one international appearance, wants to emulate the feat.
His only cap came four years ago before his career stalled at the Etihad. The defender made just 36 appearances in his nine years at City for and, with Euro 2016 fast approaching, he sees European football with Celtic as an ideal way to stake his claim for international recognition.
He said: “If you are not playing games for your club you cannot play for your country.
“If I can play regularly at Celtic and play at a high level then, hopefully, I can show I am still good enough to be considered for my country.
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“But I MUST play. I need to give the international manager something to think about.”
Boyata turned his thoughts towards Iceland tomorrow night as the SPFL champions attempt to earn a trip to either Azerbaijan or Montenegro in the next round.
He said: “We have to think and we have to use our heads as well as our bodies. We have a good lead, but we do not want to lose any goals.
“We have to stay calm. We created a lot of chances when we played them. They were difficult to break down, but we found lots of space.
“Hopefully, we can do that again in Iceland, but we also have to be careful.
“It would be nice to get an away goal early and settle us, but we don’t have to chase goals. It is more important that we don’t concede any.”
Boyata has come close to Champions League action with Manchester City only to be sidelined throughout.
And he has admitted that the frustration of those seasons will drive him on as he attempts to make it into the group stage with Celtic.
He added: “At City, I was on the bench for maybe five or six Champions League games, but I did not play. That is very frustrating. You are desperate to do well, but you do not get a chance.
“Now I feel that I have a big chance this season to help Celtic get there.
“Every football player dreams of playing in the Champions League and I am no different. It is where the best teams and the best players play. It is such a wonderful competition.
“I think it is possible for us to qualify, but we cannot look too far ahead.
“We have to try to get a positive result tomorrow and then we will see what we have to do next. “