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COLLINS WELCOMES BOYATA, LUSTIG AND MULGREW

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JOHN COLLINS believes Celtic fans could see the equivalent of three new signings unveiled tonight.

Ahead of the opening friendly game against Den Bosch at St Mirren Park, the assistant boss admitted he was excited at the prospect of central defender Dedryck Boyata’s debut for the champions.
Signed from Manchester City, the Belgian international has impressed in training and will play against the Dutch.

But Collins provided bonus news for the supporters as he confirmed Swedish star Mikael Lustig is also back.

The Scandinavian missed the last four months of last term through injury, but has come through the pre-season schedule with flying colours.

Collins and Ronny Deila also have Charlie Mulgrew back in the fold.

The Scotland international came on as a sub on the second last game of the season – the 0-0 draw against St Johnstone in Perth – after spending six months on the injury list. He confirmed his fitness by playing the entire 180 minutes for his national-team in the end-of-season matches against Qatar and Republic of Ireland.

While the fans crave new signings, Collins reckons the appearances of Boyata, Lustig and Mulgrew are a massive shot in the arm to the squad ahead of their Champions League qualifiers, which begin a in fortnight with a home tie against FC Stjarnan.

Boyata, of course, will capture most of the attention on his debut and the Celtic No.2 said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing Dedryck out there.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with him on the training pitch and he’s a quality player.

“I think the Celtic supporters will enjoy watching him. He’s very composed and technically very good.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him and I think he’s similar to Jason Denayer in that he’s very good on the ball and a good defender. Both are very good players.

“Jason was terrific for us at 19 years of age, but Dedryck has come in and is desperate to get playing first team football.

“I can already see he’s a very good passer of the ball with great composure and good pace.

“He’s got to be hungry for that first team and walking out of that tunnel. That’s what being a first team player is all about.

“He hasn’t had a lot of that at Manchester City, so he’s delighted to be here and get started. Also, he is a very good talker on the pitch.

“Jason was younger and was very quiet. Dedryk is completely different. He is very vocal, which is so important when you play at the back and you have midfielders in front of you, full-backs right and left, you need to guide them.

“It’s a big part of being a defender. So you can tell he has that attribute. The most important thing is how he performs on the pitch.

“Off it he is quite quiet, which you would expect given that he’s just at the club and feeling his way in, getting to know the boys.

“You want eleven captains, eleven speakers on the pitch, pushing each other on. That’s the ideal scenario. You can get different types, but Dedryck is a talker.”

Collins is also pleased to have Lustig and Mulgrew back in contention. The pair are experienced internationals with Champions League miles on the clock and the assistant manager added: “Mikael has been back since the first day and has trained really well.

“He’s looking sharp and is a big player for us as well as a big character in the dressing room.

“He had a difficult time last year with injuries, but he’s looking fresh.

“It’s great news. Mikael proved how important he was to us last season when he did play and it’s good to have him back.

“It’s also fantastic Charlie is back and it was good news that he got the games for Scotland.

“That was important for him and us. He has come back fresh and is another character in the dressing room and on the pitch. A good talker, a leader, so it is like a new signing.

“We missed him for six months last season, a long time for him and for us.

“He is so versatile, can play a number of positions and is very valuable to us. I think there is every chance we will try him at the back.

“Virgil van Dijk is suspended for the first Champions League game, so someone will be playing left beside Dedryck.

“Charlie has a chance of playing there. As with Scotland, he can play left central defence.”

 
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