GREG TAYLOR says that his competition with Diego Laxalt for a starting place is finally bringing out the best in him in a Celtic jersey, and he hopes to hang on to that shirt after an impressive display against Hamilton.
The former Kilmarnock full-back was a constant danger on the left flank in an enterprising performance against Accies on Wednesday evening.
And the 23-year-old says that he has been pushing himself harder than ever behind the scenes to improve his game as he looks to keep on-loan AC Milan man Laxalt on the substitute’s bench.
“I’ve learned lots this season,” Taylor said. “It’s been hard at stages.
“There have been lows at times. But in football you’ve just got to learn from them. Hopefully, as the season’s progressed I’ve been able to do that.
“I would say it’s been, over the piece, not bad [personally]. There’s going to be competition in every place at Celtic. It’s a massive club. You can only do your best when you get the opportunities. And certainly of late, hopefully I’ve done enough to keep my place.
“Learning wise, I speak to the coaches every day and learn that way. There’s also analysis of my own performances and what I can do better. And if Diego plays, he’ll probably do the same.
“It’s competition and there’s a jersey up for grabs – it’s one I want to keep.
“We got the win against Hamilton and a clean sheet, hopefully it’s enough for me to keep the jersey for the next game.”
As far as green shoots of recovery go, the win over Hamilton may offer meagre promise even if the performance was much improved, but Taylor is hoping that great things can grow from that relatively small acorn.
“It was important for us to win,” he said. “We hadn’t won in four, so it was really important to change that. It’s something to build on.
“We just had a good week’s training, as we’ve done throughout, and it’s just unfortunate performances haven’t been good enough.
“Against Hamilton we looked closer to where we want to be. I thought we looked really up for it. Pressing and with the ball, and positionally, I thought it was one of our better games all season.
“We brought the ball up the pitch well as a unit and that nullified Hamilton’s threat to mostly nothing.
“We’ve been criticised, and probably rightly so, for some of our results and performances. We’re big enough to take that.
“Now the win over Accies has given us something to build on and we move on to Saturday now.”
Taylor believes a renewed focus on the short-term is vital, but he hasn’t given up hope on their long-term gain of somehow getting back into the title race.
“It’s the past [that encourages me]– there’s a good core of winners in the dressing room who’ve won numerous trophies in a row,” he said. “So, we’ve just got to keep believing.
“We can only look at one game at a time, get as many points as possible and see where it leaves us at the end of the season.
“I think we’ve just got to keep working hard and striving to improve every day. If we do that then results and hopefully performances will take care of themselves. It’s about finishing the season as strongly as possible.
“We can’t afford to drop many more points, if any, so we’ve just got to take each game as it comes and try to put ourselves as far up the table as we can.”