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Balde aims to book Celtic starting slot

Updated 01 Nov 2013 09:12:07

Balde aims to book Celtic starting slot

Celtic striker Amido Balde says he is learning fast at the Parkhead club as he bids to book himself a regular place in Neil Lennon's starting line-up.

The Portuguese striker has taken time to settle in Glasgow following his summer move from Vitoria Guimaraes.

Balde has needed to be patient for a chance at Parkhead with the 22-year-old having made just one competitive start for the Hoops.

But the forward showed his worth last weekend when he netted the winner against Partick Thistle just eight minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.

Balde is hoping to build on his goal against the Jags by getting another chance against Dundee United on Saturday, before heading to Amsterdam for a match against Ajax that will be crucial to the Hoops' hopes of staying in Europe.

And the Celtic striker says Sunday's goal at Firhill was massive in terms of showing the club's management and supporters that he can have a big future at the Scottish champions.

"It was very important for myself and for the club. But I'm still new here so I'm eager to learn and work," Balde said.

"I'm always learning from watching Anthony Stokes and Georgios Samaras.

"Even when I'm sitting on the bench I'm watching them and taking note.

"It wasn't easy for me at first, having to adapt to coming here. I know Celtic want a forward who will score goals but I'm calm and prepared to take my time because I know the goals will come. It's all about learning little by little at this stage.

"If there is one thing I have to learn more than anything else it is patience."

Balde's performance against Partick Thistle earned him plaudits from his manager but the striker knows he still has more to prove.

"It's always good to receive praise from the manager but in general I am feeling very good here," Balde said.

"I won't be resting on my laurels because I've scored. The thing is to keep working and to keep getting better. The job is not done just because I scored at the weekend.

"I know what the manager meant when he described me as a baby and I will have to grow up quickly.

"But I'm positive the boss knows me well and is aware of any difficulties I might have.

"I'm sure I'll grow quickly and I'm not going to let the manager down."

Celtic, who are six points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand, face a United side who will be licking their wounds after losing to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the League Cup quarter-finals in midweek to a goal in the last minute of extra-time.

United, who conceded 10 goals in two visits to Celtic Park last season, also had leading scorer Nadir Ciftci red-carded in that game.

Elsewhere on Saturday, bottom of the table Hearts host St Johnstone at Tynecastle. The Jambos are 15 points away from safety but will take a boost from their League Cup win over Edinburgh rivals Hibernian in midweek.

Inverness host a Kilmarnock side that have won their past two matches and second-bottom St Mirren could leapfrog Ross County if they can pick up three points against Derek Adams' side in Paisley.

On Sunday, Motherwell will want to get back to winning ways when Hibernian are the visitors to Fir Park while on Monday second-placed Aberdeen take on Partick Thistle at Pittodrie.

Fixtures (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated)

Saturday

Celtic v Dundee United, Hearts v St Johnstone, Inverness CT v Kilmarnock, St Mirren v Ross County

Sunday

Motherwell v Hibernian (1230 GMT)

Monday

Aberdeen v Partick Thistle (1945 GMT)


AFP

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