Dedryck Boyata has admitted he remains uncertain of his long-term future at Celtic but is keen to try to establish himself as a first-team regular under Brendan Rodgers.
The Belgian international defender has emerged from the wilderness at the Scottish champions over the past week, making consecutive appearances and helping to keep clean sheets in the victories over Albion Rovers last Sunday and St Johnstone on Wednesday night when he also scored the only goal of the game.
Boyata has had only three first-team outings in total since Rodgers succeeded Ronny Deila as manager last summer. The 26-year-old was initially sidelined by hamstring and sciatic nerve problems, then found himself at the back of the queue for central defensive places behind Erik Sviatchenko, Jozo Simunovic and Kolo Toure.
He has been linked with a move to Anderlecht during the current transfer window but says he is unaware of any interest from the Brussels club.
Boyata, who signed a four-year contract when he joined Celtic from Manchester City in a £1.5million move in the summer of 2015, now hopes to build on his return to favour in Glasgow.
“I am not going to lie to you, it has been a very difficult time for me since the beginning of the season,” he said. “But I have been working hard and waiting for this kind of moment. I am very happy with what has happened this week. Despite all the speculation, I wasn’t listening to anything. But you never know what can happen. But I am still a Celtic player. That’s all I was thinking about.
“I am a Celtic player. I don’t really think of my future because I’m a Celtic player. Of course, if it’s down to me, I will stay at Celtic [after the transfer window closes next week]. I have told my agent if there is nothing concrete not to tell me and I haven’t heard anything.
“Playing games is the most important thing for a player. Now we have a good squad at Celtic, very good players as well. If I can get as many games as possible it is good for me. You just don’t know what will happen in the future. You don’t know if you are going to get injured or something else is going to happen.
“Of course, I would like to play as many games as possible and try to play well. It is very important, but, as I say, you don’t know what is going to happen in the future. I am working hard [for a future at Celtic] but only the manager can decide this.
“He has been talking to me. He has told me what to expect for myself. He has told me what was missing from my game and what I had to work on. The moment he thought that he had got what he needed from me, he gave me my chance. To be honest, it was very difficult for me, but he told me why I wasn’t playing. I just had to work and get to where he wanted me to get to.
“It has been a very difficult time from the beginning of the season because I was injured. I had to try and get my fitness back, try and get my legs back and try and get my play back too. What the manager said when I came back was the team was playing well and in training I wasn’t at my best. He knew when I was at my best and he told me that I wasn’t there. I just had to work hard and that is what I have been doing.
“When you don’t play, you try to blame people and find reasons why things aren’t going well. But nobody has heard me say any bad things about the manager or what was happening. All I have been doing is working hard. I have talked to people who have been in this kind of position before. They have just told me ‘when your chance comes take it’. That is all I have been thinking about.
“This week has been a big week. I am going to keep working hard to get this moment and this chance as often as possible.”