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Carl Starfelt raring to go for Celtic after quarantine spell

Celtic v Midtjylland – UEFA Champions League – Second Qualifying Round – First Leg – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has been handed a much-needed boost after new arrival Carl Starfelt declared himself ready for Saturday’s cinch Premiership opener.

The Swedish centre-back has arrived in Glasgow after a spell in quarantine following his move from Russian side Rubin Kazan, and will train with his new team-mates for the first time on Friday.

Celtic had 18-year-old Dane Murray making his first start for the club alongside 21-year-old Stephen Welsh in central defence as they lost 2-1 to Midtjylland on Wednesday to bow out of the Champions League qualifiers.

And with the game going to extra-time in Denmark, Starfelt is likely to make his debut against Hearts at Tynecastle.

The 26-year-old told Celtic TV: “I had to be in quarantine for a time, so obviously it was very tough to see the boys play and not to be able to train with the team and help the team, so I’m very glad to be here finally and I can’t wait to get started.

“It will be nice to meet the team and learn how the team wants to play, to meet the coach and get into everything.

“I think everything will happen very quickly since there will be a game already this weekend, so I’m delighted to get going. I’ve been waiting for it for some time now.

“If the coach wants to play me, I will, of course, play and give 100 per cent, so that’s up to coach whether I play or not. I’ve been training the last few days and I feel ready.”

Postecoglou is at the start of a major rebuild but there is little leeway for settling in with supporters desperate to reclaim the title from Rangers.

And Starfelt is well aware that the focus has to be short-term.

“My hopes are, first of all, to get into the team, to know how the team plays and just get a good start,” he said. “It’s always a little bit of adaptation when you come to a new club.

“I want that to be as smooth as possible, and then we have bigger goals – I want to be successful here, for the team to be successful, to win titles, to play in Europe – I want to do all those things.

“But I need to focus on the here and now, and right now it’s just to get into the group and the team.”

Postecoglou accepted responsibility for the defeat in Denmark, which consigned Celtic to a Europa League qualifier against Czech side Jablonec, but debate will continue over the time taken to appoint the Australian and delays in signing new players.

The manager, though, knows he has to focus on Saturday. He will also have Nir Bitton back from suspension, while Leigh Griffiths missed the trip to Denmark with a slight injury and could also return to the fold.

“I don’t get to present inquests, I have just got to get on with the job,” he said.

“We have a very important game on Saturday, we want to start our league campaign in a strong manner.

“We will get some reinforcements in, which I think will help, because the players worked awfully hard. We will need to get a couple of fresh legs in.

“All we can do is focus on the next challenge and the next challenge is Saturday at Hearts.”