Celtic striker Patryk Klimala hopes to reap the benefits of bulking up during lockdown.
The Scottish champions return to action on Thursday evening with a match against Nice in the Veolia Trophy pre-season tournament in France.
Klimala struggled to break into the Celtic team last season following his January move from Jagiellonia Bialystok in his Polish homeland. He started once and appeared three times as a substitute before the season was brought to a premature end. Now the 21-year-old is hoping he can compete better physically after time spent in the gym.
Klimala knew he had to toughen up after tough battles with his team-mates in training.
“Firstly, I have to say I feel good. I actually feel better than I did before lockdown,” Klimala told Celtic TV. “I worked hard during quarantine and so hopefully I am ready. Now, we’re in Lyon and we have our first friendly game. We’ll see how it goes.
“It was a simple decision for me to go to the gym during lockdown. When I was on the pitch with, say, Chris Jullien, for example, it was really hard. I didn’t have any chance – that’s why I wanted to bulk up and I think that it’s better for me. I feel better and hopefully the guys think the same.”
The striker knows he will have a hard job to dislodge Odsonne Edouard as Celtic’s No 1 striker but is confident he can be an effective performer in the new season.
“I feel comfortable now. I know what Odsonne did last season, but I will work hard and hopefully I’m given a chance to show some more,” Klimala said. “I spoke to [assistant manager] John Kennedy and I know what I have to do, why I’m here, and we will see.
“We are Celtic. We have to, and can, win every game. It’s only a friendly tomorrow, but we have to prove to ourselves and the manager who is the best moving forward into the new season.
“I can tell you, I understand all of the guys, but learning English can be difficult. It’s a difficult situation, but I want to learn English because I respect my team-mates, the manager, the fans. I can speak with everyone now, and I’m still learning every day. I feel good with the language now, but hopefully I can keep getting better.”
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