KRISTOFFER AJER was a surprise but very welcome addition to the Celtic squad at Murrayfield. Injured in the quarter final win against St Johnstone, it was thought that the 20 year old Norwegian was still a week or two away from being included in the first team squad.
However such was the outstanding work done by the Celtic physios he was able to make the match and with Jozo Simunovic hurt in Leipzig and Dedryck Boyata suspended, he was able to start the match alongside the impressive Filip Benkovic.
Ajer played very well and after suffering from some cramp near the end, was replaced by Jack Hendry for the closing stages. By that time it was all over anyway bar the singing and dancing at the Celtic end.
“It was a great feeling to finally play again,” Ajer said yesterday to the media.
“I’m fully fit. I’ve been working for four weeks with the physios, working extremely hard. They were long days at Lennoxtown, but it really paid off, being able to come back so early.
“It was always part of the plan to play in the semi-final. I had a training session on Thursday, while the rest of the guys were playing in Germany. Then I trained with the team as normal on Friday. It’s been really well planned by the physios and the work they’ve put in has been phenomenal.
“To be honest, there wasn’t any risk taken. The physios have been building this up over the last couple of weeks. Obviously, the cramp came on quite early in the second half. But it helped getting the result.
“It was good to finally get out of the treatment room – it is getting quite crowded!
Ajer was delighted with the way things panned out at Murrayfield. Celtic were certainly weakened by both injuries and suspensions and the Hearts drums were beating positively before the match. They clearly fancied their chances.
“Yes, we have a lot of players missing but, you see how many good players we have, guys who can take their chance.
“Look at Ryan Christie coming on and doing fantastically against Hearts. I am so happy for him, he is a great talent.
‘That’s one of our big strengths in the squad. We train hard, so hard, every single day. The manager and the staff put on great sessions to make sure everyone is fit and ready to come on. I had no doubts that Ryan would come on and do a great job. I think it’s a really, really good squad.
“I’m just happy to be back; when you are out injured, all you want is to come back training and playing. I could play on Wednesday. I just had cramps in the calf. I’ll recover quickly and be ready for Wednesday.”
Also on The Celtic Star today…
“Ibrox might have set the tone,” Boxer Bain enjoys another Knock-Out Sunday…See HERE.
Despite Porto’s £15million bid Ntcham is ‘happy to be at Celtic’…See HERE.
Jim Craig – Brian O’Neill stuns Ibrox with a late Celtic winner…See HERE.