“It’s About Seeing Those Pictures and Playing Forward Without Being Risk Adverse” – Celtic Star Looks Ahead To Dundee Challenge

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With Celtic in action tonight against Dundee at Celtic Park, The Celtic Exchange spoke with Alistair Johnston at yesterday’s press conference at Lennoxtown.

Despite the hindrances posed by his protective mask, Johnston navigated through adversity on Sunday with resilience and a touch of humour, ultimately assisting the winning goal for Adam Idah against Motherwell after a poor first-half display.

He said: “It’s not ideal and it can get in the vision a bit, but at the same time, it speeds me up to get me on the pitch.

“I’m happy with how the injury is feeling and it feels as good as before, the looks are still intact if they were there in the first place.“

BEHIND THE MASK

In a pivotal moment during the match, Johnston made the decision to discard the mask, symbolising a shift in attitude in a ‘sleeves up’ sort of moment in which he clearly believed that the mask was having negative effect on his own performance.

He said: “They do a good job with the mask in doing a 3D image of your face, so it fits perfectly, but it’s not something you’re used to.

“The first-half wasn’t going as planned so it was a bit symbolic to take it off and move forward and the second-half was much better.”

Reflecting on how his protective mask negatively affected him in the first-half, Johnston shared honestly.

He said: “You want to put it out and say it’s not a bother, but subconsciously it does affect you. It’s such a small percentage but if you misplace a pass you wonder if it’s the mask that did that.

“Realistically it probably wasn’t but it plays on your mind and it’s the last thing you want as a player.

“I think that was the symbolic thing for me where I took it off and I had to be smart and protect my face and not get a Theo Bair elbow to the cranium.”

A GAME OF TWO HALFS

Alistair Johnston Celebrates With His Team-Mates At Fir Park
Alistair Johnston Celebrates With His Team-Mates At Fir Park

The Canadian right back also discussed Celtic’s history of scoring late winners at Fir Park.

He said: “We have left it late at that place before, so at half-time the people who needed to speak did so.“

Looking back on Brendan Rodgers’ team talk at half-time when they were down 1-0, Johnston reiterated the Irishman’s calm yet focused approach.

He said: “The gaffer didn’t feel he needed to have a strong word. It was time just to go and put it into action and everyone played a bit more freely and we just went to go for it.

“When we play free and play our football we show we are a really top side and that was one of the most enjoyable halves of football in a while.“

Looking ahead to tonight’s match, Johnston believes that if they can replicate the performance from the last hour of Sunday’s game, Hoops supporters will rally behind them.

He said: “If we play like the last 30 minutes at Motherwell then they will be right behind us.

“The supporters could see it was coming and they got behind us.“

Asked about Celtic’s struggles this season in moving the ball quickly from the back, Johnston emphasised the importance of forward-thinking play and the need for being bold in their passing.

He said: “It’s about seeing those pictures and playing forward without being risk adverse. It’s something a Celtic player needs to do and it’s something that I’ve learned.

“Going after it gets the crowd on our side and makes us confident and that’s when we play our best football.”

Tune in now to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly as we cover all things Celtic as the title race gathers pace!

Available wherever you get your podcasts or via the player below.

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