Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou feels his summer signings will go from strength to strength as several begin to make their mark on the team.
Argentinian left-back Alexandro Bernabei has impressed while starting both of Celtic’s last two cinch Premiership games ahead of Saturday’s trip to face Hearts at Tynecastle.
Sead Haksabanovic has looked lively in a central midfield role since Callum McGregor dropped out through injury while his former Rubin Kazan team-mate, Oliver Abildgaard, has got about half an hour of action off the bench in Celtic’s last two matches.
Aaron Mooy has also looked more effective in a more advanced midfield role after starting the last two games, which saw Celtic hit a total of 10 goals past Hibernian and Motherwell.
Goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist also enjoyed Wednesday’s 4-0 win at Fir Park, where he kept Celtic’s first clean sheet in nine matches.
Postecoglou has had to deploy loan signing Moritz Jenz quickly and consistently following several injuries in central defence this season but was otherwise careful not to ask too much from his summer arrivals.
The Celtic manager said: “There’s obviously a distinct difference between this year and last year, where we were kind of forced to throw guys in, which wasn’t ideal.
“Credit to the players we did throw in, they just took up the challenge. It wasn’t easy for a lot of them.
“This year with all the players we have brought in, we have taken our time to integrate them into the style of training, our style of play, and allowing them to get settled off the park. I am pleased with all their progress.
“I still feel, maybe not with Berna, because he came in pretty early, but with the other lads you mentioned, Sead, Oliver and Aaron, I still feel they will be better off in the second half of the year because missing pre-season does catch up with you at some point. You can’t make that ground up.
“The fact that we have got this mid-season break will allow us to put some more work into the guys and it will be important because, whilst we are in a busy period, we still know that the really important stuff happens after the break. That’s when everything gets decided and we will still have a lot of games.
“I’m really confident players like Aaron, Sead and Oliver will be strong contributors to that.”
Celtic will have an unchanged squad for Saturday’s lunchtime fixture with Jota and David Turnbull still missing but in with a chance of facing Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
Postecoglou said: “We are pretty much as is from Wednesday night. Everyone pulled up okay.
“The ones who are close to coming back we are taking a more conservative path. The team is going okay. The closest being Jota and Turnbull, we will see how they are for Tuesday.”