Top Line Summary

  • Analyses the international break
  • Reacts to Rodgers' touchline ban
  • Addresses the 'business end' of the season
  • Touches on the mental side of football

Everything Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart said to the media, ahead of his side's trip to Livingston on Sunday afternoon...

Two weeks off following the international break, how’s it been?

Yeah, it’s been good and used well. People got some good international minutes and some stayed back and got some good training in. We’re all ready to go, especially the guys who haven’t had internationals as a distraction. We’re looking forward to Sunday. 

What are the aims for the three games before the split, what’s the message? 

We’ve got to take it on like we have done all year. Keep everyone in as good a condition as we possibly can, and have as strong a squad to pick from. We’ll look to attack every game.

How’s the mood and atmosphere in the dressing room? How confident are the boys going into this final home run? 

We’re in a good place. There’s always that kind of fresh feeling after an international break. You spend an awful amount of time with each other so it’s nice to have some time apart. There were a few stories to share and moments with good people and getting a few people back fit which means we’re in a good spot. 

About the manager, he’s been suspended for one game. As an experienced pro, how much of a difference does it make when the manager is or isn’t on the touchline?

It’s the same with the players, you want your best players available, whether that’s your leader or the manager. Sometimes you have situations like this. We are more than capable and he’s had more than long enough to put his message across with what he needs and wants from us. They’re an incredible coaching staff that has been there for a long while now and that we all feel comfortable with. There’s no doubt we want Brendan (Rodgers) with us in the dugout, but the rules say that he’s not there. He’s going to do everything he possibly can to help us, and that’s no different. 

Surely it’s a big boost that he will be available for that Rangers game, there was fear it was going to be a two-match ban. 

Yeah, not for me to comment on speculation, and Rangers will take care of itself in however many days time. The most important game is Livingston. We won’t have Brendan in the dugout with us but John (Kennedy) will step in. He’s been personally with me my whole journey here, and he’s definitely got managerial skills from learning from great managers such as Brendan in the past and working with Ange Postecoglou. We look forward to seeing what he’s got.

You've mentioned getting a few players back. Does that give you a good feeling in the dressing room seeing these players?

Yeah, it's a great feeling. There is no doubt we are at our best when we have everybody available and the manager has decisions to make on who he picks. In every single position, we are strong when people are fit and we are getting towards that point. That is an exciting place to be with such a potentially exciting end to the season.

You mentioned you spend so much time together that you need some time apart. Do these spells apart refresh you mentally?

Yes, of course. That's life. We are a family. We are a team. We are a group of people who are working together, squabbling, fighting and looking to do what's best for each other and what's best for the team. For that relationship to flourish you need to have time apart sometimes - a refresh. Some people are in a good place and they need to calm down. Some people need to go and get minutes elsewhere. Some people just need some time away and it works. Football is really good like that and these international breaks for everyone at different stages in their career really do help.

Was this one especially crucial as we enter what everybody calls the business end of the season?

It is what is. The March window has always been there. Only COVID disrupted that. Whether it's, good, bad or indifferent it is what it is.  I think we have used it from all aspects as a positive.

You've been involved in title races and the latter stage of cup competitions. How do you deal with the pressure of that? Is there a different feeling going into every game when you get to this stage?

I think you just concentrate on what you can take care of and right now it has been training sessions and on Sunday we have a very important game and we are all looking forward to being involved in it. We have one more training session in which we are going to prepare and we've got all the bodies back through the door and we managed to train together practically as a full squad. We have got another chance to discuss Livingston and what we are going to implement in the game. On Sunday we have all that to focus on.