Celtic's Carl Starfelt lifts the lid on how Joe Hart is setting tone for team's defensive mentality

It might only be a coincidence.

Celtic keeper Joe Hart passes on instructions to Callum McGregor and Carl Starfelt (far left) during last week's Europa League play-off win over AZ Alkmaar and the Swedish centre-back says the English international's constant promptings are proving real learning tools for the club's defenders. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

It is no less notable, though, that Joe Hart arrived into a Celtic team without a win across their first three games of the season, only for that to have given way to Ange Postecoglou’s side racking up six straight victories with the hugely experienced 34-year-old keeper in their ranks.

Hart’s early block with the toe of his boot set up the 2-0 success at home to AZ Alkmaar in last week’s opening leg of a Europa League play-off that will conclude in north Holland on Thursday evening. Fellow Celtic newbie Carl Starfelt, stationed in front of Hart in the club’s defensive backline, believes the promptings of the English international have been instrumental to the growing confidence shown by a back five breached in only one of their past five outings.

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“Joe is a very good guy, a very good goalkeeper, and also a leader on the pitch and in the dressing room,” said the 26-year-old Swede, called up for his country’s World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Greece, and a friendly with Uzbekistan in the coming weeks. “I’ve only got good things to say about him. What a career he has had. You can learn a lot from such a player, even though we aren’t in the same position. You can learn from his mentality. He’s always shouting at us, but when we play at home you don’t hear it too much because of the fans...But he’s great, he speaks to us all the time and he’s demanding a lot from us, so that’s great.”

Starfelt has had his awkward moments across seven Celtic appearances since his £4.2m move from Russian club Rubin Kazan five weeks ago. However, as he “develops” his game under the “different”, “demanding” and “fun” all-out attacking policies of Postecoglou, the centre-back is more than content with his lot.

“I’m very happy to be here,” said Starfelt. “The club is very nice, it’s a very welcoming club, and a very big club. I enjoy it a lot, and I feel like I’m settling in more and more. It will of course take some time to fully settle into a new team, but I feel like I’m getting better in every game. I’m enjoying life outside of football as well, so that’s perfect.”

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