Kris Ajer is happy to put his head where it hurts for more Hampden glory

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KRIS AJER can consider himself the first pick central defender at Celtic now. With Dedryck Boyata’s season now over due to a ruptured hamstring and mystery surrounding his intentions when his current deal at Celtic runs out at the end of next month – Berlin or Glasgow will be the big Belgian’s choice it seems, Ajer has no such uncertainly about where he’ll be playing his football.

And that’s in the Celtic first team. Ajer will be there at Hampden on Sunday and he’ll be more that prepared to put his body on the line against Aberdeen and the Norwegian knows he’ll be under intense pressure from the giant, power-house Dons attacker Sam Cosgrove.

Yet Ajer is well aware of Celtic’s of excellent record at the National Stadium and so will Cosgrove, his manager Derek McInnes and the rest of his team-mates.

“We’ve done well at Hampden recently, but that’s forgotten about now. There’s a new game coming up there next weekend and it’s one we have to win,” Ajer told the media.

“We have our targets this season and we have a massive game coming up against Aberdeen. We know we are going to have to be 100 per cent up for it if we are going to win the game. Hopefully we can do that.

“There’s a lot of tough teams. For example, Livingston made it very difficult for us again on Saturday. It’s the second 0-0 we have had with them this season and that tells you a lot about their defending.

“I think there’s a lot of great teams, but Aberdeen is one of the toughest.”

Sam Cosgrove will be the latest tough opponent from Ajer who has been in the wars more that once this season. No-one can accuse him of failing to put his head in where it hurts for the Celtic cause, the latest head wound coming last week in that win over the Rangers.

“As a centre half you have to get used to that kind of stuff. When you go up to win these duels you know something can happen. But you always have to go in 100 per cent or you shouldn’t be playing. That will never be a concern for me.

On going head to head with Cosgrove, Ajer relishes the challenge. “He has done really well this season. We know Aberdeen are in great form right now and they will make it really difficult. It will be a battle and we have to win the physical battle before you earn the right to play. My stitches had been in for a week but the doctors did a fantastic job. I’ve had enough head knocks this season so hopefully there’s no more to come.”

Ajer’s last minute last ditch challenge to prevent an equaliser for the Rangers was celebrated in grand style, almost as if he’d scored the winner. If it wasn’t quite that it was a match winning challenge for Celtic.

“I don’t score that many goals so I have to celebrate the stuff that I can. It was a great feeling to have that tackle and my reaction was to celebrate it.

“When you hear the fans celebrating your tackle like that, and you know how much it means to everyone, the adrenaline starts pumping and you just want to celebrate. It was a good feeling. I’ve watched it back a few times. I always get clips sent to me after every game.”

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