PAULO BERNARDO has made one start in his six appearances for Celtic since arriving on a season-long loan from Benfica just before the transfer deadline.

The Portuguese playmaker has already experienced the highs and lows of football at the champions.

Remarkably, he has been involved in two wins, two draws and two defeats in his two two months at Parkhead.

Bernardo accumulated 134 minutes in his substitute outings against Dundee (3-0), Feyenoord (0-2), Lazio (1-2), Hearts (4-1) and Atletico Madrid (2-2).

He was in the line-up at kick-off for the first time in the goalless draw with Hibs at Easter Road where he was replaced by David Turnbull in the 57th minute.

CAPITAL PERFORMANCE…Paulo Bernardo looks a little bemused as Tomoki Iwata leads the Celtic celebrations after the 4-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle last month.

Bernardo is looking to push on during his temporary transfer from the Lisbon giants, especially with Reo Hatate almost certainly out for the remainder of the year with a hamstring problem. The loss of the creative and influential Japanese international will be a blow to Brendan Rodgers, but, at least, he does have cover in the midfield positions.

Captain Callum McGregor and the consistently superb Matt O’Riley are first picks, but the Irishman also has the likes of Tomoki Iwata and Odin Holm, as well as Bernardo and Turnbull, vying for the other coveted spot in the engine room.

Plus Kwon Hyeon-kyu, recruited from South Korea at the same time as winger Yang Hyun-jun in the summer, is still awaiting his breakthrough opportunity in the top side.

The 21-year-old Stadium of Light prospect is ready to follow the example of his former team-mate and friend Filipe Jota and make an impact in the east end of Glasgow.

Bernardo, who is hoping to get the nod to start against St Mirren at Parkhead tonight, said: “In the time I have, I must show the manager more and more. I will get better. Could I stay? I think so.

“But I have to play a little more to have that chance. Life for me since coming to Celtic has been nice. I like the city and the club. The club is really big.

“I didn’t have the chance to know about Celtic so much before, but since I’ve come here I’ve felt that it is a really big club. I’m really happy to be here and to be helping the club.

“I’ve had to be patient. All players want to play. But I have to work hard to get this chance. And I have to work even harder to keep going and show the coach that I can play a lot more.

“I have to continue with this work.”

BATTLE STATIONS…Paulo Bernardo tussles with Hibs midfielder Joe Newell for possession in the goalless draw at Easter Road.

Bernardo, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “The coach has told me that I have to be patient as my opportunity will come. He’s also told me to work as hard as I can and to be focused here.

“My legs are okay after the weekend. It was a tough few days for me after coming into the Atletico game, but I have to be prepared for that.

“The Atletico game probably had an effect on me on Saturday. It was tough, but I felt ready when I was told to come on. I’m feeling confident. It was a good game for me, I think.

“I have to be ready and the opportunity came along. I did my best.”

Looking towards this evening’s encounter with the Paisley club, Bernardo added: “We have to show a reaction from the weekend – and I am confident that will come.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v St Mirren this evening – only in your champion CQN.

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