Giorgos Giakoumakis' major Greece boost lifts Celtic striker further ahead of Rangers clash

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou believes his striker Giorgos Giakoumakis will have even greater intensity to his game going into next weekend’s pivotal derby at Ibrox thanks to his current stint with the Greek national team.

Ahead of earning his first cap in a year for his country’s 1-0 win away to Romania on Friday, the 27-year-old had bagged eight goals in five games for the cinch Premiership leaders. This form has taken his tally for the season to 12. All but one of these have been netted this year following the difficult opening he endured to Celtic career as the result of injuries that dogged him following his £2.5m move from Dutch club VVV-Venlo on transfer deadline day.

Postecoglou is convinced that having his scoring exploits recognised by Greece - his appearance against Romania, in which he had a goal ruled out by VAR, only a fourth Greek start in seven international appearances - will ensure he comes back to the club feeling even better about himself ahead of next weekend’s derby showdown with Rangers.

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“When the players get selected for their national team it’s a reflection of their form for the club,” the Australian said. “Giako had a really tough start to his Celtic career, a really tough first half of the season. He came in really late, missed pre-season and had a couple of injury setbacks. So he never really got going but since the break he has obviously got himself fit and ready. He has been doing well for us and I think going away with the Greek national team will help give him further confidence and belief in the way he is going about things. Like all the international players I think it will also do him good to get away from that constant club environment. Just to start thinking about different things for a couple of weeks. Hopefully that freshens them up and gets them ready for that final push with us.

Giorgos Giakoumakis started for Greece in their 1-0 away win over Romania and had a goal ruled out by VAR. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“[International football] is not something I spoke about specifically [to him] but if you are going to play for this football club and do well then there is no doubt you are going to get highlighted. Because you are playing in front of 60,000 supporters, usually competing for honours, trophies and playing in Europe. You will get noticed. That’s part of the attraction of coming here, the pressures here that mean you have to succeed. Giakoumakis is a great example of that.

“When he missed the penalty against Livingston [in October] that wasn’t a great way to start his Celtic career.

“What was important was how he reacted to that because that pressure was never going to change. That’s the expectation when you are a striker at this club and you have to embrace that responsibility. Giako wanted that and that’s why he is getting the rewards now.”

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