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ONE SMALL STEP FOR ARMSTRONG

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STUART ARMSTRONG is ready to relaunch his Celtic career after a frustrating spell on the sidelines.

The 23-year-old midfielder was impressive at the start of the campaign before being struck by injury.
He came back too soon from a hamstring strain to face Malmo in the final Champions League qualifier and then sustained a back problem.
The former Dundee United playmaker had to sit out Scotland’s Euro 2016 encounter against world champions Germany and the Hoops’ showpiece trip to Amsterdam to face Ajax in the Europa League.

But after five weeks of anguish, Armstrong came on as a substitute in last week’s 2-2 draw with Fenerbahce at Parkhead.

With most of his team-mates on international duty, he said: “It’s quieter around the training ground, but it’s nice to have a few days focusing on getting my fitness back. Earlier in the season, I came back and it was too soon, so then we made the decision not to rush and be patient.

“This is an important time for me because we don’t have a game for another week and a half, so that’s good for me to build up slowly.

“Being injured is never fun and very frustrating. I’ve never been good at it. The bad timing as well with the Aberdeen game, the Ajax tie and Scotland trip made it upsetting, but these things happen and you learn to live with them.

“It’s nice to be back. Even just for a couple of minutes against Fenerbahce and then a little more at Hamilton and I hope to fully get back soon and play my part.”

Armstrong added: “Expectation is just a part of Celtic. There is an enormous support and the fans expect good performances and results. You know that and when you get a couple of bad results, the pressure builds.

“Things in games get highlighted, especially when it’s felt we should be winning. But, as a group, we focus on the positive aspects and there have been a few in recent weeks we can take into the rest of the season.

“We faced Ajax, who are a huge club, and Fenerbahce, who have real talent in their team, and to get two good performances is a good feeling especially given we felt we should have taken more from both games.

“That’s encouraging and shows us we are a good team. It takes some getting used to that when you beat teams 3-0 or 4-0, people just expect it.”

Boss Ronny Deila has remained calm during the turbulent period and Armstrong said: “The manager has his ways. He’s well balanced. He knows when to be calm and when to speak to us in a certain manner when it is required.

“But we have an experienced group and the dressing room knows the situation.

“There are 80 per cent of the squad away playing internationals, so that tells you the experience and quality in the squad.

“They have won titles and played big Champions League games, so they know what is demanded.

”There’s so much quality and competition for places. I’ll just do my best to keep up the performance levels of the team and help in any way I can.”
 
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