Celtic striker Albian Ajeti has stated that he’s finally close to 100% fitness after bagging his fourth goal in five domestic games yesterday.
Ajeti produced a fine finish against Livingston which ultimately proved to be the winner as the Hoops ran out 3-2 victors at Celtic Park. It added to previous strikes against Dundee United, Motherwell, and Ross County respectively.
However, perhaps more importantly, yesterday’s win against Livingston marked the second game in eight days in which Ajeti has lasted over an hour. He was replaced on 79 minutes yesterday after a 62-minute outing last Saturday in Dingwall.
And it appears that the striker is finally in a good place with his fitness levels after arriving at Parkhead this summer without a pre-season under his belt.
As quoted by the Herald, Ajeti said: “I feel good and close to 100% now. I’ve still got work to do but I was happy to start today and the points were the most important thing.
“I expect to score goals. But my first aim in every game is to try and help the team win. If I can score to help them, even better. If I play well or we win, the confidence is always high. I’ve never had a problem with my own confidence.
“I was pleased with my game today but we can still improve. We’re trying to get better. Every striker in this squad can score goals. Sometimes it’s me, or its Odsonne (Edouard) or (Patryk) Klimala – we can all score.”
Nothing wrong with Ajeti’s sharpness
To the uninformed onlooker, it wouldn’t seem as though there’s anything wrong with Ajeti whatsoever. The idea that he isn’t fully fit may still baffle many.
Indeed, this has been such a talking point as it effectively cost us Champions League football. Neil Lennon failed to field a striker due to Ajeti and Klimala’s poor fitness levels last month in the Champions League second qualifying round. In the end, Ferencvaros knocked us out after we posed little threat in the final third.
But now it looks as though the Swiss forward is almost hitting peak form. What’s more impressive with his four goals in five games return is that he has barely started. Of those five, Ajeti has only been in Lennon’s starting XI on two occasions.
Of course, Celtic need to get Ajeti to a level of fitness that will allow him to compete in two/three games per week. If he’s going to be one of our top strikers this season, we have to be able to rely on him for a Thursday/Sunday/Wednesday type of schedule.
There may yet still be time before we can put that level of responsibility on his shoulders, but the early signs are extremely promising.
Whether he starts on Thursday night against Riga will go a long way to answering that question of where he’s at. He looks hungry, and ticking off that box of scoring in Europe would be a fine one to complete so early into his Celtic career.