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Celtic right-back Alistair Johnston admits his combative approach is partly driven by his realisation that he needed to bridge the gap with more technically-gifted players.

But he also feels his competitive nature is an irreducible part of his character stemming from his upbringing.

Johnston’s commitment has helped make him a firm favourite with the Celtic support since joining from Montreal in the wake of his appearance at the World Cup with Canada.

But the aggression Johnston brings is very much controlled – he has only picked up one yellow card in his 15 appearances in Scottish football.

The 24-year-old said: “If you take away my desire and competitiveness I’m not nearly the same footballer as some of these guys here. I have realised that and I have come to terms with that.

“So I know what I need to bring in order to play at the level that is expected if I want to play for Celtic.

“It really is part of me. It definitely comes back to my childhood growing up in a family of three boys where I was the middle child and everything was a competition, constantly fighting for everything. Everything was always a battle.

“And also playing sports like (ice) hockey. It’s a huge thing for us in Canada growing up. We love to hit people, we love to get into it.”

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s trip to Kilmarnock, Johnston said: “But at the same time it’s also that camaraderie. If you hit one of my players, my really skilful guy, it’s my job to go in there and back them up.

“But it’s not just me that does it. Cal (Callum McGregor) is one of the biggest ones. In the last game I got knocked over and I turned around and he was already in there pushing someone for me.

“I was like ‘mate, that’s my job, get out of there’.

“We have a really good camaraderie here, a good brotherhood that we are building and I am just happy to be part of it and I am happy to pull my weight.”

Johnston continued to enhance his reputation with a man-of-the-match display in Celtic’s 3-2 win over Rangers, which further cemented their cinch Premiership title chances.

“Those kind of matches definitely help as a defender that likes to get stuck in,” he said.

“It’s definitely a bit more choppy and end-to-end than our typical matches and therefore there’s a lot more opportunity to get mixed up with the 50-50s. That’s where I thrive.

“I realise the main goal is to get three points but we are also there to entertain and when you’ve got 60,000 crazy Celtic fans going absolutely nuts and you know much they love a tackle…

“I know how much I love a tackle. There is nothing quite like getting stuck in and feeling the energy off the crowd from that.

“That gives you a high and really pushes you on. I really enjoyed that aspect of it, being an entertainer a bit as well, but most important is we get the three points.

“I’m not sure who voted for man of the match or how I got it but I will take it and add it to my small collection.”