Erik Sviatchenko seeks start to vindicate Celtic move

Erik Sviatchenko: Four caps. Picture: SNS
Erik Sviatchenko: Four caps. Picture: SNS
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Erik Sviatchenko believes his decision to sign for Celtic will be vindicated if he lines up for Denmark against Scotland tomorrow night.

The central defender had offers from clubs in Italy, France and Netherlands during the recent transfer window but opted to join the Scottish champions in a £1.5 million move from Midtjylland.

Sviatchenko’s choice was questioned by some observers in Denmark who suggested playing in Scottish football could prove detrimental to his international career 
prospects.

But the 24-year-old is content that his inclusion in the first squad named by new Denmark manager Age Hareide indicates he can be a part of his country’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign which begins in September.

“Some people wondered about how my move to Celtic would affect my international career but I did my research and I knew it was the right step for me,” said Sviatchenko.

“I now see that I am benefitting from it by being named in the first squad under the new coach. This is a good chance for me to stake my claim for a place in his plans for the future.”

Sviatchenko was an unused substitute as Denmark marked the start of former Malmo boss Hareide’s tenure with a 2-1 home win against Euro 2016-bound Iceland last Thursday night.

Hareide opted for a three-man defence of Daniel Agger, the former Liverpool stopper now at Brondby, Simon Kjaer, of Fenerbahce, and highly-
rated Borussia Moenchengladbach teenager Andreas Christensen.

Another of Hareide’s myriad central defensive options, Jannik Vestergaard, of Werder Bremen, replaced Agger in the second half while Sviatchenko had to settle for a spectating role.

“I’m one of six centre halves in the squad,” he added. “There will be a lot of competition to get into the team. But I’m still young at 24 and I’m with the national team both for getting inspiration and to show I can perform at that level.

“I took a big step by joining a big club this year to develop. There are a lot of good defenders in Denmark, it is a position where we are quite strong.”

Sviatchenko, who made his debut for Denmark in a friendly against the USA a year ago, is expected to win his fifth cap against Scotland tomorrow as Hareide utilises his squad to the full.

With six of his Celtic team-mates in Gordon Strachan’s squad for the match, it is an occasion Sviatchenko is relishing.

“It’s going to be interesting to play at Hampden, especially with so many Celtic players in the Scotland squad,” he said. “I will need to get my analysis ready for my Danish 
team-mates!”