How Celtic's January signings were spared an awkward initiation - 'it's not something we do here'

Greg Taylor is sure Celtic are stronger coming out of the winter break then they were going into it – and certainly in a better place than this time last year.

Returning from a controversial trip to Dubai, Neil Lennon and two staff members plus 13 players were forced to self-isolate ahead of a Monday night meeting with Hibs which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Now, 12 months later and facing the same opposition on the same night, defender Taylor believes the changes since then, and the difference in the squad from a fortnight ago when the game was initially due to take place, can ensure a happier outcome.

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“We don’t have 16 missing for Monday, so definitely!” he said when asked about the year-on-year comparison. “That’s certainly a start. No squad can handle losing 16 players, so thankfully, we’ve not got that amount missing.

"The gaffer has touched on [having a stronger squad now than a fortnight ago] – we’ve had challenges throughout the whole period since he came in.

“But we’re not looking to make excuses, we just take each game as it comes and try to play the way we want to play.”

Celtic now have more players to choose from. Johnny Kelly was signed while Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi arrived from Japan to add to Ange Postecoglou’s options, though Kyogo Furuhashi is an injury doubt.

A fortnight on from acclimatising on the training ground, the J-League trio could be in the frame against Shaun Maloney's side at a packed Parkhead after working on the language barrier in the Lennoxtown dressing room.

Celtic's Greg Taylor. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

“They have settled in really well, actually. They are all really nice lads, good work ethic, they have handled it really well,” Taylor explained.

“Of course you’ve got the language barrier, but already their English is improving day-by-day. It is hard listening to my Scottish accent at the best of times. It can’t be easy for anyone.

"You just try and be as pleasant as you can and when we’re on the training pitch, explain the standards that we set every day. The manager’s pretty clear with that, and the demands you pretty much need to hit straight away.”

There was no initiation ritual for the trio either, just straight to work.

Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi have settled well and are working on the language barrier. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“I think I did one here early on when I signed – middle of the dinner hall, standing on a chair, knife in hand, trying to sing – but I can’t remember what. I think when I first broke through at Kilmarnock I had to sing as well.

“That’s gone a wee bit out of the game. I don’t think many lads like it and especially boys coming from different countries. I can’t imagine that would be a nice position to be put in so it’s not something we do here.”

With added competition in the squad Postecoglou is seeking improvements – and Taylor has similar aspirations in himself.

“I think there’s improvement in myself that can still happen, definitely.

Greg Taylor is hoping for personal developments and improvements in the second half of the season. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“I’ve enjoyed the way the gaffer wants to play, but I missed a period of time when I was out in the first part of the season, and you hate missing games.

“I just hope to play and contribute as much as I can when the gaffer calls upon me.”

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