MAIK NAWROCKI admits he has no regrets following his £4.3million move to Celtic from Legia Warsaw in the summer.
The 22-year-old central defender played the first three games – the Premiership wins over Saturday’s opponents Ross County (4-2) and Aberdeen (3-1) and 1-0 loss in the Viaplay League Cup loss at Kilmarnock – before dropping into oblivion with a hamstring injury.
When Nawrocki recovered, he couldn’t regain his place due to Cameron Carter-Vickers and Liam Scales getting the nod from Brendan Rodgers as his preferred double-act in the middle of the rearguard.
ON THE BALL…Maik Nawrocki in action at Rugby Park before being hit by injury.
He also had to contend with the blow of being excluded from the manager’s Champions League squad and being forced to watch the matches against Atletico Madrid, Lazio and Feyenoord from the stand.
There were obvious disappointments to overcome, but Nawrocki insisted: “I think it’s normal to think about that, but every time I spoke with someone about it, I never doubted my decision to come here.
“I feel I fit in here perfectly. I knew myself that it would only be a matter of time before I was back playing. I was always confident that in the end it would go well for me.
“There were other decisions I could have made, but I am very happy to be here, with all the people, and the situation was just something no-one could have predicted.
“Sometimes that happens in football. And I never doubted or regretted my decision to come here.”
FRONT PAGE NEWS…cover star Maik Nawrocki.
The 6ft-plus German-born former Polish Under-21 centre-back, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “When the injury came, I spoke to my family and friends and tried not to think too much about it.
“I just focused on the chance I would get in future and in the end everything happened as I thought it would.
“My sister was here for quite a time and my girlfriend was here for a few weeks. Sometimes I was alone and I knew how that felt because in Warsaw I was also alone at my previous club Legia, so I am used to that.
“But, yeah. If you are alone, it gives you more time to focus on the football and that’s not a bad thing sometimes.”
The defender also adopted a reasonable stance on his Euro exclusion and said: “I spoke with the manager. I’m not stupid. I understand the situation and I couldn’t play in the Champions League.
“Cam and Scalesy did well, so I could appreciate the situation. The only thing I could do, and the manager said this also, was work hard in training and be prepared for the moment when I would go back into the team.”
MOMENT OF TRUTH…Maik Nawrocki prepares to go on as a first-half substitute for the injured Stephen Welsh with Brendan Rodgers by his side in the 2-1 derby win at Parkhead last month.
There were sceptics willing to write him off, but Nawrocki added: “I think as a football player you have to block things out. It’s normal that people judge you and speak about it, but I am a football player and I know how to deal with it.
“It didn’t bother me in any way.
”Generally, I feel like every fan wants the players to be at their best and they hope we do well for the club. So I am happy about that.”
Nawrocki made his comeback as a 35th-minute substitute for Stephen Welsh in the 2-1 derby win at Parkhead on December 30 and kept his place for the 3-0 victory over St Mirren in Paisley in the first game of 2024 on January 2.
He was in place again during the Scottish Cup fourth round 5-0 success over Buckie Thistle in a storm-lashed weekend in Glasgow and now the questions begin again as the champions await the arrival of the Dingwall club on Saturday.
Carter-Vickers is edging back to full fitness after limping off early in the second-half of the 3-0 triumph over Dundee on Boxing Day.
The USA World Cup pivot has missed the last three games, but hopes to return at the weekend.
It will be a straight fight between Carter-Vickers and Nawrocki for the right-sided slot beside Scales.
Over to you, Brendan!