MARCO TILIO has played a mere 28 minutes since his £2million June arrival at Celtic.
However, the rarely-seen Australian winger insists he has IMPROVED since joining the champions from Melbourne City, despite his lack of game-time.
Tilio, who is currently with the Socceroos international squad in Qatar for the Asian Cup, was put into cold storage shortly after sealing his five-year deal when it was discovered he was suffering from a torn quad thigh muscle.
The 22-year-old touchline flyer came to Parkhead with a soaring reputation, but the setback ensured a false start to his new career in Scotland.
WELCOME TO PARADISE…Marco Tilio proudly displays his Celtic shirt on the day of his arrival in June.
Tilio eventually made a first-team breakthrough in a cameo role as a late substitute in the 1-1 home draw with Motherwell FIVE months after the switch. He also came off the substitutes’ bench in the 4-1 win over Hibs in the east end of Glasgow last month.
The player, who has been linked with a loan move in this transfer window, is determined to get back into his stride and he sees the Asian Cup as the ideal launch pad with the month-long tournament kicking off tomorrow.
The Aussies are due to play India on Saturday morning in their first game in the competition which will be concluded on February 10.
A resolute Tilio said: “Of course from the outside it’s been tough.
“I obviously went to the club with an injury. But I’ve been back for four months now fully training, fully fit. I probably feel physically better than what I’ve ever been in my career.
“So, I feel really good and I’m just raring to go, ready to play and, hopefully, this tournament’s a chance for me to do that.”
Tilio may be awaiting the nod from Brendan Rodgers for his first Hoops start, but admitted he is relishing life with Scotland’s title kings.
THE THINKER…Marco Tilio is ready for “a massive six months”.
The wing raider, speaking to the West Australian, continued: “I think it’s only improved me as a player being in and around that every day.
“But, overall, I’d like to get more game time and whatever that looks like, we’ll see what happens.
“What I love to do, is play football. So, any opportunity I get to do that, I can showcase what I’m capable of.
“I’m just hoping I can do that here at a major tournament.
“It’s a massive six months ahead for myself.”
Tilio praised national coach Graham Arnold for showing faith in his ability and added: “Arnie’s always about giving opportunity and, throughout my career so far, he’s given me a lot of opportunities.
“So I’ve just got to try to repay him and that’s with performances in training and making sure I can show I’m ready to play.”
And then Tilio can turn his focus back to club football with the possibility of Celtic fans getting more than just a glimpse of the player who arrived on these shores with such a glowing reputation.