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Carl Starfelt enjoying life adapting to added pressure and demands at Celtic

Celtic v St Johnstone – cinch Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Carl Starfelt feels he is adapting to the added pressure and demands of playing for Celtic.

The Sweden defender earned a man-of-the-match award on his return from a hamstring injury as Celtic beat Hearts 1-0 on Thursday night.

Starfelt struggled in the early weeks of his Celtic career after arriving from Rubin Kazan in late July.

But he believes he is learning to handle the pressure of playing in front of the demanding Celtic support.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s cinch Premiership encounter with Dundee United at Tannadice, the former IFK Gothenburg centre-back said: “You get used to it. The first game, with 60,000, I never played with that before I came here, so obviously you are a bit nervous and it puts pressure on you.

“But now I am just enjoying it so much. The games are so much more fun when the people come to the stadium.

“Obviously, when I played in Sweden we had a lot of fans, and then Russia, not so many.

“I prefer it with the fans obviously because you affect so many people. It’s more feelings. You not only play for yourself, you play for the whole city. I think you put in an extra shift when you know that.”

Starfelt helps deal with the pressure by blocking out what is happening across the city.

Celtic restored a four-point gap between themselves and leaders Rangers after the champions won 1-0 against Hibernian in Edinburgh 24 hours earlier.

“We are just focusing on the next game,” Starfelt said. “It’s so early. We have played 16 games, so it’s very early.

“Maybe at the end you will look at some other results but right now we are just focusing, taking it match by match and trying to win as many as possible.”

The physical demands of playing for Celtic are also something that the defender is adapting to.

Ange Postecoglou’s side still have nine games to play before the winter break starts in the first few days of January.

The 26-year-old said: “I’m definitely not used to it. I am used to playing maximum 35 games a year.

“But I prefer this way, to play more games.

“Now, of course, it can also get too much if you get too many injuries, but I prefer to play games. It’s a lot of fun.

“It’s been two games a week since I came. I don’t think we have had one single week when we have only played one game.”

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