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CHRISTIE’S FORTRESS PARKHEAD TARGET

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RYAN CHRISTIE admitted he was just doing his job as he fired in a blistering hat-trick against St Johnstone in the 7-0 Flag Day romp – and revealed he wants to play his part in making Parkhead a fortress again.

Celtic’s Scotland international playmaker, who saw his last campaign so crudely interrupted following a brutal mid-air assault from Aberdeen’s Dom Ball that left him with multi-facial wounds in the Hoops’ 3-0 Scottish Cup semi-final win in April, is determined to hit the ground running in his efforts to make up for lost time.

Christie delivered a Man-of-the-Match display against the Perth side as the thrashed the ball beyond the overworked Zander Clark three times – two with the left and one with the right – and the 24-year-old midfielder thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle from start to finish.

Neil Lennon replaced him with Olivier Ntcham in the 71st minute and the Highlander left the pitch to a rousing and thoroughly deserved standing ovation from the appreciative sell-out audience.

Christie, speaking to the club website, said: “We’re all delighted. We wanted to make a statement to everybody else and to do that in the way we did is fantastic. Every team wants to get off to the best possible start.

“We need to try and make this place the fortress that it’s known for, you need to dominate teams and win by big margins and we’ve managed that. St Johnstone defended well, they made it stuffy, but I think we showed our qualities overall.

“The injuries I sustained last campaign meant that over the summer I was desperate to get back in. Domestically, I want to kick on now, especially being one of the attacking players, we’re expected to score goals and it’s my job to do that.

“The fans were exceptional, as well, the atmosphere was incredible and that’s a joy to play in front of. It’s up to us to live up to that and to put on a show like we did on this occasion.”

Christie has now claimed six competitive goals which is a remarkable statistic when you compare it to his total of 11 from the previous season.

He added: “I’m always going to say there’s more to come, but I am enjoying it. The players around me make it easier, on the pitch and off the pitch. That shows the quality we have in the team and it’s a great team to be part of just now.

“The expectation and the pressure is something that comes with the job here. Everyone around me is playing superbly well which makes my job easier. I have targets this year, but it’s up to me to keep my place in the team and keep scoring goals and playing well.

“The gaffer has told me to shoot on sight if I get the chance which I’m delighted to hear. I was upset to blaze one over the bar early on against St Johnstone, but I’m delighted to have scored a hat-trick after that.”

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