Cameron Carter-Vickers admits 'cringe' over Rangers celebration and is not taking Celtic place for granted despite good form
But that is not the case with Cameron Carter-Vickers, who followed up his man-of-the-match display against Rangers last Monday with another top-drawer performance for Ange Postecoglou's side in the 2-0 win over Kilmarnock on Saturday.
Fresh from starring for USA at the World Cup, the 25-year-old is in the form of his life, typified by a last-ditch block on Malik Tillman that effectively prevented his side from going 3-1 down at Ibrox and almost certainly losing the Old Firm derby. It led to him being surrounded by his team-mates as he punched the air in celebration at the end. “I enjoyed the game and I enjoyed the moment," Carter Vickers said. "If I was to look back on it now I would probably cringe a little bit. But at the time I was pumped.”
He required no such vital interventions against a Kilmarnock side that posed a limited threat, but he was a commanding presence, exuding confidence in every part of his game both on and off the ball. Not even receiving a bloodied nose in a challenge with Killie debutant Kyle Vassell, signed from San Diego Loyal on January 1, could knock the big defender off his stride.
It would seem that Carter-Vickers need not fear for his place in the Celtic side, but with competition for the two centre-back positions increasing following the arrival of Japanese defender Yuki Kobayashi, the starting jersey is not something the £6m signing from Tottenham Hotspur is prepared to take for granted. “No, I don’t think anyone can [think like that]," he said. "When you are at a club of this size you have always got to be performing well to keep your place. That is what all of the players are concentrated on. At a club like Celtic or any big club there is always competition for places and I think this squad kind of thrives off that. It helps us to improve as a collective.”
Kilmarnock frustrated the Hoops throughout the first-half until Jota pounced in the nick of time to glance home a low cross from Daizen Maeda in the 45th minute. The noise the opener generated from the 58,612 crowd inside Celtic Park was as much a release of frustration as a roar of celebration. The second arrived seven minutes after the break when Kyogo Furuhashi forced defender Ash Taylor to divert a Reo Hatate delivery into his own net. It then became a case of damage limitation for the visitors as the Hoops hit the woodwork four times in pursuit of more goals. Killie were rather fortunate to be spared a serious spanking ahead of facing Celtic again this Saturday in the semi-final of the Viaplay Cup at Hampden.
Carter-Vickers, however, is expecting a different match, but a similar outcome as Celtic home in on the first silverware of the season. "We are all aware at Celtic that you are expected to win everything. We are going to go into that game fully focused and do our best to get into that final. Every competition that we compete in, we want to win games, we want to win the trophy. That one is no different.”
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