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Ange Postecoglou claims Celtic are better prepared now after ‘unsettled’ start

Ange Postecoglou file photo
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou feels his squad is as well prepared as ever following an “unsettled” start to his Parkhead reign.

Postecoglou reported a clean bill of health from his international players ahead of Saturday’s cinch Premiership clash at Motherwell, after losing both Callum McGregor and Kyogo Furuhashi for several games after the previous break for World Cup qualifiers.

With the dust settled on the transfer window and late captures such as Giorgos Giakoumakis, Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers having had two free weeks to bed in, Postecoglou feels more comfortable as Celtic bid to build on their first domestic away win in eight months.

“It has been, right from the start, probably unsettled is the word,” the former Australia head coach said.

“Because even four weeks ago we had guys leaving who were pretty important players. We played Rangers just before the previous break and guys like Odsonne (Edouard) and Ryan (Christie), who were in the starting line-up, left, and we lost Cal and Kyogo for the next three or four weeks.

“It has been unsettled but after the Aberdeen game I was hoping we’d get through this international period without any issues and the ones who have been rushed in and thrown into playing can settle themselves, even off the field. Guys were literally coming off a plane and we were putting them in the team.

“Not just me, I think the whole squad feels better prepared than we were before.”

Postecoglou, whose team sit sixth in the Premiership, added: “It’s important we get some momentum in this period. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, we have some challenges including Saturday’s game, which will be a tough one.

“But I just feel the squad is better prepared now for what’s ahead. I feel the squad is as well prepared as we have been since day one and that’s the most important thing for me.

“What happens beyond that is going to depend on our performances and tackling each challenge. It’s about getting a series of performances together and backing that up with results.”

Giakoumakis and winger Mikey Johnston are available at Fir Park after being restricted to less than 20 minutes of action each this season.

On the Greek striker, who hit 26 goals with VVV-Venlo in the Dutch top flight last season, Postecoglou said: “He missed pre-season with his club. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota were still training with their clubs pre-season. Giorgos missed all of that and came in and had to do quarantine.

“So it was always going to take a little bit of time. So I’m really pleased we have managed to get these two weeks into him and I think he is happier in himself.

“When he gets this opportunity now he is much better prepared to make an impact. And that’s why we brought him here, to make an impact. We really believe he has got the attributes we need.

“And just for me it makes the world of difference knowing that with him, (Albian) Ajeti, Kyogo, Mikey Johnston back, Jota, Liel Abada, (James) Forrest not far away, even on the bench I will have a couple of options I can throw on and help us with our momentum late in games, which we just haven’t been able to do.”