Josip Juranovic loving life in Glasgow as Celtic defender relishes hectic fixture schedule over festive period

The Croatian full-back is loving his role in the current Hoops side
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Josip Juranovic is having the time of his life at Celtic and is determined to celebrate with some silverware at the end of the season.

The 26-year-old right-back, who joined the Hoops on a five-year-deal in August from Legia Warsaw, has been a mainstay in Ange Postecoglou’s side.

The Croatian international has played most of his football this season in an unfamiliar left-back role due to the shoulder injury that has kept Greg Taylor on the side lines.

“For now it is going well”, Juranovic said. “We’ve played so many games that in my head I’m now a left-back but that’s just for the moment!

“It’s a little different because I am having to look over my right shoulder but as a right-back I’m always looking over my left, but it’s more important that we’re playing well as a team.”

Asked whether he sees his long-term future at the club as a right-back, Juranovic smiled and replied: “Yes”.

Postecoglou’s all-out attacking approach is benefitting the club’s full-backs with Juranovic a key focal point in starting attacks.

He admitted: “The ball is always between your legs. In the first game against Rangers I had 120 touches of the ball, which is unbelievable for full-backs, so I’m enjoying the system a lot.

“We are improving game-by-game and day-by-day with each training session and we want to keep track of what the manager wants from us.

“Every building has little steps and if you want to reach the top you must take every step and because of that we will continue to support each other.

“We have good players and a really good coaching staff. If we want to achieve our goals, we must continue to play attacking football, score goals and defend well.

“You can see on the pitch that we are always giving 100 per cent and that’s the most important thing.”

Juranovic will continue to occupy the left-back position against Hearts on Thursday night until Taylor’s expected return in the New Year.

With the games coming thick and fast, he is relishing the prospect of non-stop competitive action over the festive period.

Juranovic added: “We have been looking at some videos of Hearts. They play well in a 3-4-3 formation but we want to improve on our last game and grow as a team.

“We have about ten tough games before the winter break, which will be tough but as a player I want to win a trophy and if you want to be champions you must beat every team. That is the reason we are all here at this club.

“We need to be all together as a full squad because after each game we have little time to recover. For me, it’s great because I love to play football.

“We are fully confident just now but we are just taking it game-by-game. That is the best way to improve ourselves.”

Juranovic has been on penalty-taking duties for the Hoops so far this season, converting three from the spot as he became the club’s first defender to be handed the responsibility since 1985.

His latest - a stunning Panenka during their 3-2 Europa League defeat to Bayer Leverkusen - received warm applause from the Parkhead faithful for his perfect execution in the BayArena.

Asked whether he is likely to repeat that trick in the future, Juranovic stated: “We will see what happens when we get our next penalty.

“Like I said previously, I was talking with Joe Hart before the Leverkusen game and told him I would take the Panenka and I kept my word.”

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