MAIK NAWROCKI has been Celtic’s most expensive signing this season at the £4.3million he cost when he joined from Legia Warsaw in the summer.

However, despite appearances in the first three games of the campaign, the centre-back’s progress has stalled while the team attempt to reclaim the form normally associated with the champions.

The German-born former Poland Under-21 international was injured in his third outing, the disappointing 1-0 loss at Kilmarnock that ended the holders’ interest in the League Cup at the first hurdle.

While Nawrocki toiled to get back to match fitness, Stephen Welsh has emerged again with first-team potential while Liam Scales’ outstanding form has kept Gustaf Lagerbielke, the £3million recruit from Elfsborg, on the sidelines.

PARADISE…Maik Nawrocki proudly holds his new Celtic jersey on the day of his £4.3million arrival.

With the recurring muscular problem for Cameron Carter-Vickers, central defence has been a headache for Brendan Rodgers since his return to the club in June.

Celtic cult hero Jacki Dziekanowski believes Nawrocki could be the answer – and insists it is up to the 23-year-old pivot to prove himself to gain the trust of the Irishman.

The one-time flamboyant frontman, brought to Parkhead by Billy McNeill in July 1989 and who left for Bristol City three years later, said: “I thought Nawrocki played quite well in the first few weeks, but, unfortunately, got injured.

“It took him some time to get back to fitness and it’s been difficult to get into the starting line-up.

“I know he’ll be unhappy at not playing, as every player would be, but it is his own hands. This is a big chance for him to play for a massive club.

“It’s difficult for me to say why he isn’t on the pitch all the time. It’s difficult for supporters, as well. They might say: ‘We paid a lot of money for this player, why does he not play?’.

“But the manger, Brendan Rodgers, will see his progress and what he is doing in training and in games. He has a very good manager there and he will be learning from him.

SHOVE OFF…Maik Nawrocki and Kilmarnock forward Marley Watkins duel for possession at Rugby Park in August.

“I am sure Celtic have a plan for him. It might be to gradually get him in to the team or maybe go out on loan for six months and then come back stronger. But his target should be to force his way into the team.

“There is always a lot of competition for places as a big club like Celtic and it is up to the player himself to show he should be playing. If he works hard then Brendan will give him his chance.

“If you don’t, then you are not making the most of your opportunity at Celtic. You don’t want to have any regrets.”
Dziekanowski, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “I thought he was a good player for Legia. He was still young, but he did very well. You could see he had a lot of potential. However, it is different going to Celtic and getting the opportunity to play in the Champions League.

“It is a big jump and it demands more out of players. I know there is pressure playing for Celtic – but you dream of playing for clubs that are under pressure to win trophies.

“You dream about playing in front of those crowds, like 60,000 at Celtic Park. If you can’t cope with that then you end up at a lower level.

“I know the crowd can be demanding, but Celtic supporters are very honest. If you are working hard for the team and try you hardest, they will always get behind you.

“When I was at the club, it was perhaps not the easiest of times, but they were always right behind me. I still get a wonderful welcome any time I am in Scotland. The supporters at Celtic understand football.”

NICK OF TIME…Maik Nawrocki slides in to challenge St Mirren’s Toyosi Olusanya in Celtic’s 3-0 win in Paisley at the start of January.

Poland are scheduled to play Scotland in the UEFA Nations League home and away in early September and Dziekanowski believes Nawrocki should be pushing for a place in the senior international squad.

He added: “I always keep an eye on Celtic and there is always a bit of pride when there are Polish players at the club.

“I like to see them doing well. There is also a huge incentive for Nawrocki with the Poland national team.

“We have a problem with defenders at the moment and if Nawrocki is playing regularly – and playing well – for Celtic, then he will have a tremendous chance of being involved.

“He has been part of the set up for a few years and he was around the squad at the time of the World Cup in Qatar. I think we expected him to be pushing to become a regular player for the side, but it hasn’t worked out that way yet.

“The Nations League games with Scotland later this year would be nice!

“There is time for him, but it’s important he gets into the Celtic team and, hopefully, he can help the team get back to the top of the table.”

Click Here for Comments >

About Author