Kieran Tierney is poised to make his 100th appearance for Celtic on Saturday, with most observers struggling to recall him ever being anything less than impressive in the previous 99.
The remarkable consistency of the 20-year-old defender even moved his team-mate Callum McGregor to recently label him a “freak” for avoiding the kind of slump in form which most young players experience soon after their first-team breakthrough.
But as he gets ready for another landmark moment at Ross County this weekend, Tierney revealed he is preparing himself mentally for what be believes will be an inevitable period when he is unable to match the high standards he has set week in, week out so far for the Scottish champions.
“I don’t think you can ever think the dip in form is never going to come,” he said. “A dip will come for me – 100 per cent. It’s just about how I approach it and deal with it.
“It’s a hard one. No one goes out to play badly. You obviously don’t want that. You just try your best to make sure it doesn’t happen. But everyone is human. You’d just need to get over it. You’ve got people by your side to support you when it does happen.
“I appreciate what Callum [pictured inset] said. He’s a great player and has shown that in the past few seasons.
“I just want to keep playing well, so you try to stay away from negative thoughts. But I’m sure it will come. If it does, it’s not the end of the world. People can play badly. It has happened to plenty of players who have then come out the other side of it. If it does happen, I’d just need to bounce back.
“No matter when I play my 100th game for Celtic, I will just treat it like any other. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, I’ll train hard for it and try to be ready.”
It’s the start of another big week for Tierney as Celtic follow their trip to Dingwall with next Wednesday’s Champions League assignment against Paris Saint-Germain in France, before the first domestic trophy of the season is up for grabs when they face his hometown club Motherwell in the Betfred Cup final at Hampden on 26 November.
“It won’t be strange playing against Motherwell in a final,” he said. “I’ve played against them plenty of times now through the youth levels and into the first team. It’s another game. Most of my friends in the town are Celtic fans.
“But I’m friends with Chris Cadden of Motherwell. I went to high school with him and I speak with him quite a lot.
“I know all the Motherwell fans and players are up for this in a big way. It’s a cup final so they’re bound to be. It’s a great achievement for them to get there but they’ll now be looking to win it.
“They’re a very good team. They’ve shown that this season through many of the results they’ve got. They’ll be a very hard team to beat.”
Tierney’s last cup final appearance for Celtic in May helped cement his status as a firm favourite of the support. After his jaw was broken by the flailing arm of Aberdeen’s Jayden Stockley at Hampden, Tierney managed to make it back from hospital just in time to latch on to the end of the presentation ceremony and hoist aloft the Scottish Cup on the day the historic unbeaten domestic treble was clinched.
“I honestly couldn’t feel much as I’d just had an operation which meant an anaesthetic,” he recalled.
“I’ve watched the moment when I lift the cup a few times and it’s brilliant. It felt like a fairytale for me getting up the stairs in time to do that. I literally just got back into the stadium, looked up and there were only a couple of people still waiting to lift the trophy.
‘’I just ran up the stairs. Everything happens for a reason in life. For me to get back there on time was just brilliant. I’d been running through the car park in my boots so I got a bit of abuse from Aberdeen fans. But I was just so happy. I’d heard on the radio that we’d scored in the last minute to win it so I was full of emotion.”